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NRL Players Agree To 6% Pay Cut As Origin Players Sacrifice $3 Million

T
he NRL and Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) have agreed to a new player pay deal for 2021 and 2022, seeing a 6% drop in the base salary cap, with clubs set to operate under a $9.02 million cap.

The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) came after six months of negotiations between the two parties and has also seen the NRL’s elite representative players sacrifice a collective $3 million in State of Origin payments in an effort to reduce the impact felt by minimum wage players in the league.

With the reduced salary cap, which is down from $9.6 million in 2021 and $9.11 million in 2022, each NRL club will save an average of $600,000 a year on salaries, adding up to just under $19 million in savings across player wages for the entire NRL over the next two seasons.

As part of the new pay deal, the NRL has confirmed the four minimum wage earners in roster spots 27-30 on each NRL team, and players on development contracts worth up to $60,000, won’t have their salaries reduced.

The representative player payments have been halved for the next two seasons as a result, with NSW and Queensland State of Origin players initially set to receive $30,000 match payments and Australian Kangaroos players to receive $20,000 per Test match, now due to receive $15,000 per Origin match and $10,000 per Kangaroos appearance.

Kangaroos captain and RLPA director, Daly Cherry-Evans, said there was an overwhelming level of support from representative players and those at his NRL club for the new pay deal.

“Generally, I don’t like to speak for everyone,” Cherry-Evans said.

“But across the board it was a common picture that everyone was pretty happy to sacrifice those rep payments because it took you back to why you play rugby league.

“All you ever want to do is play NRL and get those representative opportunities.

“Guys understood that taking those rep pay cuts helps benefit everyone else not just at your club, but across all 16 clubs.

“There’s still some very young kids in Origin camp and it’s not necessarily for them to worry about.

“But generally when it did come up in conversation in camp most players were across it and understood that us taking a whack helps out teammates at your club.

“You have to tip your cap to the NRL and RLPA because they’ve worked through so much detail on this and the changes that have been made are aimed at keeping as many jobs in the game and as many players in the game as possible,” he said.

The new pay deal follows the NRL players accepting a 20% pay cut in total for 2020, which included a 52% pay cut for the last five months of the 2020 NRL season following the May 28 return to action.

NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo, said the players showed a commitment to rugby league’s long-term survival after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2020 proved when we do things together, we get a better outcome for everyone,” Abdo said.

“Today is another example of that.

“I want to thank the players for the professionalism, discipline, and sacrifices they have made, not only to ensure the 2020 season proceeded but so the game can remain sustainable long term.

“I also want to thank Clint Newton (RLPA CEO) for the leadership he has shown in securing a deal that provides security for his players, the game, and our joint stakeholders.

“The deal is a fair reflection of the value the players bring to our game and the sacrifices they are prepared to make to ensure we remain strong in the years ahead,” he said.