Anthony Don of the Titans during the Round 2 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Anthony Don of the Titans during the Round 2 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

NRL players mull ‘Robin Hood’ wage sharing

NRL players have discussed a "Robin Hood" style pay cut scenario which would see the game's big earners sacrifice cash to prop up the battlers.

The game's biggest stars discussed the option of "robbing the rich to give to the poor" during a conference call with the Rugby League Players' Association.

The NRL's 550-plus contracted players are facing hefty cuts following the indefinite suspension of the 2020 premiership season.

A host of the game's 16 clubs have already slashed and stood down staff to deal with the catastrophic financial blow of not playing.

As it stands, the players remain on full-pay with a committee set up to negotiate what will be an inevitable cut to their 2020 salaries.

Instead of issuing a game-wide pay cut, such as 50 per cent, the players have discussed the prospect of the top earners sacrificing more than the lower-paid players.

The NRL has a host of $1 million-a-season players like Cameron Smith, Ben Hunt and Ash Taylor, who could cop a bigger blow than those on minimum wage contracts around $80-100,000.

Broncos veteran Darius Boyd has been a high-earner for a long time and confirmed the option had been debated.

Boyd says players aren’t ignoring the issue. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Boyd says players aren’t ignoring the issue. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

 

"That's something we spoke about with the RLPA," he said. "Some of the younger guys are on smaller contracts and minimum wage.

"It's not just about paying off your home loan, it's about getting your next meal and living week-to-week. That's an issue throughout society.

"All of those options are on the table. Every time I've spoken to the RLPA they've had some positive chats around what we can do and how we can be there for each other.

"There are a couple of scenarios."

The AFL's players have agreed to a 50 per cent pay cut, but the league has pushed for more to combat the dire financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

A 50 per cent game-wide pay cut in the NRL could see a $1 million player's wage cut to $500,000 for the year, while a $100,000 earner is slashed to $50,000.

Titans winger Anthony Don is one of the Gold Coast's lower earners and said it was a tough situation to agree on.

"It's a tricky one because I'm obviously on the lower end of the pay scale, it's a tough ethical question," he said.

"The high-end players still have mortgages and expenses. They'd have a lot more outgoings than the lower end guys.

RLPA boss Clint Newton (left) has been central to the game’s discussions. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
RLPA boss Clint Newton (left) has been central to the game’s discussions. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

 

"There are young guys living pay-to-pay who are waiting to pay their rent or child support or other things.

"There's going to be a lot of support out there, but some tough questions for sure. It's going to be a hard decision for whoever makes that."

The players currently share 29.5 per cent of the NRL's total revenue which is distributed to clubs as part of a $9.5 million salary cap.

Boyd said the players had accepted pay cuts were a necessity to keep the NRL afloat, but rejected suggestions they were overpaid.

"We have a percentage share in the revenue of the game - that's for when it's positive and negative," he said.

"We have the same percentage when times like this come about.

"I don't think 29.5 per cent is a lot. It was worked out to be a fair revenue share of what the game makes.

"If the game isn't doing well or we're going through a really tough time like now, that 29.5 per cent goes the other way too."

Originally published as NRL players mull 'Robin Hood' wage sharing



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