Because Foran stands to earn more than $1.1 million this year, the Bulldogs felt that figure was unfair given it represents less than one third of the star playmaker’s salary.
One option for the Bulldogs is to take their argument to the Australian Rugby League Commission who have the power to change policy.
The rule was only introduced in 2018 after Josh Hodgson missed most of the season for the Raiders after breaking down playing for England in the World Cup semi-final at the end of 2017.
“We believe the stakeholders should get together to review the policy,” Hill told the Herald.
“It seems unfair for clubs to release players for rep duty, only to have them return injured – in Kieran’s case that’s up to nine months – and not get full salary cap relief.
“There needs to be a fairer and cleaner system, which could be a percentage of a player’s salary. We’ve lost Kieran who is at the higher end when it comes to experience and performance as opposed to someone else starting out in their rep career, therefore the difference in salary cap relief is quite severe.”
An NRL spokesperson said on Friday: “Every club supported the introduction of this rule. All clubs were consulted and had the opportunity to provide input before it was announced.”
There are also concerns about the financial pressure on some clubs which might struggle to find the money to pay a replacement player.
If the policy was based on the percentage of a player’s wage, the Dogs could have been reimbursed more than $600,000 based on 25 games in a season and Foran being on $1.1 million, or $44,000 a game.
Foran injured his shoulder playing for New Zealand last November, but told the Herald last week he hoped to return as early as round 15, but is more likely for round 17 after the bye.
Hill said the club would not rush out and find a replacement, and pointed out they were patient and lucky to pick up Dallin Watene-Zelezniak early last season when he split with Penrith.
Adam Doueihi would be an ideal candidate to play in the halves, but Hill said the Souths’ utility was not on their radar. It has also been well documented Doueihi already stands to earn north of $600,000 next year as part of his back-ended Bunnies deal.
“He’s not a player we’ve had a lot of discussion about,” Hill said.
English prop Luke Thompson remains on Canterbury’s radar for 2021, but the money will not be used to try and prise him away from St Helens a year early.
Because the Bulldogs have only signed 29 players, they can sign a replacement knowing they do not have to remove anybody from their roster once Foran returns.
Dogs coach Dean Pay confirmed Brandon Wakeham was a chance of forcing his way into the starting halves with Jack Cogger and Lachlan Lewis the early frontrunners.
“The three of them have trained together, and Brandon isn’t without a chance. He’s a good kid and handled those Tests for Fiji at the end of last year really well. We’ll see how we go,” Pay said.
As for Faitala-Mariner, Pay said: “He had the surgery today. They just landed on him during the [opposed session]. He could be out for about eight weeks. He’ll miss the start of the season. It’s a shame because he had been going so well.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.