NRL salary cap: Fai Fai Loa may be forced out

Dragons winger Kalifa Fai Fai Loa scored two tries on Monday night against Penrith. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIThe 20-year-old who upstaged St George Illawarra’s $2 million man could be a victim of the salary cap by the end of the year.In just his second NRL game, winger Kalifa Fai Fai Loa made rival clubs take notice with a five-star, two-try performance for the Dragons on Monday.It was one of few highlights for the premiership favourites in the 12-8 loss to Penrith, as former captain Mark Gasnier misfired in his first game since leaving for French rugby in 2008. Full coverage of the Dragons But after paying almost $2 million over five years for Gasnier, the Dragons are facing tough salary cap decisions.Fai Fai Loa and Michael Lett are both off contract at the end of the year and the Dragons are yet to offer them new deals.They may not see NRL game time again this season following the return of Darius Boyd and Brett Morris from State of Origin duty after this weekend’s bye.The contracts of Kiwi international Jason Nightingale, young gun Kyle Stanley and 13-game NSW centre Matt Cooper are also due to expire at the end of next year.Injured backline pair Peni Tagive and Bronx Goodwin will also be playing for their futures in 2011.”There’s no doubt clubs will come looking,” a key official from a rival Sydney NRL club said.”It’s a bit like Parramatta getting Poorey (former Dragons prop Justin Poore) last year. I mean I’m sure the Dragons have some plans in place, but there’s going to be clubs able to throw more money at them.”Especially now Gaz is back there.”Nightingale and the young winger (Fai Fai Loa) will definitely be in demand. He’s impressive, the kid – he likes to get involved.”Kyle Stanley’s certainly another, I know their names have been mentioned around our club.”While Bennett said Gasnier “has a long way to go” to rediscover his best form, the club has ruled out giving him extra game time in feeder team Shellharbour’s NSW Cup clash on Saturday.Fai Fai Loa made an impressive debut against Canberra at WIN Stadium earlier this year, making two line breaks and running for 205m.But it was on Monday he announced himself as a future star, scoring a double and keeping the Dragons in the contest.St George Illawarra are expected to make Nightingale a priority signing next year. Coach Wayne Bennett is a fan of Nightingale, who made the sacrifice of shifting into the forward pack last year to accommodate Wendell Sailor during his NRL swansong.But keeping Nightingale leaves less room to keep injured 31-year-old Cooper, who is sure to attract huge offers from the English Super League when he comes off contract.
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