‘Times are bloody tough’: Origin stars face massive pay cut
State of Origin superstars will face hefty pay cuts this year amid fears from club officials that some players may withdraw from the prestigious series.
News Corp can reveal the pool of money to pay NSW and Queensland players will be slashed through COVID with one club chief executive suggesting the reduction could be as much as 50 per cent.
NRL management and RLPA officials are locked in negotiations to finalise figures but every player contesting the series will have their match payments reduced.
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Origin players have been receiving $30,000 a game but NRL club officials fear that could be cut back to $15,000, maybe even $10,000.
"Times are bloody tough," said one CEO.
With biosecurity measures preventing any players from joining each squads mid-series, NSW and Queensland will select extended squads expected to be between 24 and 27 players.
Those players in the squad that don't actually play will still need to be paid.
Club CEO's also believe frustrated players confined to a bubble since late March - coupled with a trimmed pay packet - may be reluctant to enter another long-term Origin bubble.
Players would be in camp for a month and be away from families - once again - for six weeks. Players missing the finals can leave their club bubble but then be told to return for an Origin bubble.
It may come down to whether the prestige of being part of an Origin squad can equal the disappointment of a reduced pay packet and entering another bubble.
"There's no question at all that some players may look at not wanting to play," said one CEO.
"Not because they don't love Origin but COVID has put them in a bubble all season and they may not want to go into another bubble with summer here.
"And let's not forget their reduced pay packet will also be taxed. It will be interesting."
The NRL claims it hasn't heard one suggestion that any player would want to knock back a chance to participate in a State of Origin series.
Both states have paid players a combined total of $3m a season.
The slashed payment for each player will be pooled and a final sum of money will be divided among all the players. Those playing would be paid more money than those in the extended squad.
NRL officials would not estimate any final payment figures while meetings with the RLPA continue. The two parties hope to nail down a resolution shortly. Reduced crowds and lost revenue are behind the rep payment reduction.
Players in the bubble who aren't playing must receive what one source claimed was a "fair and appropriate payment."
NSW and Queensland will need to select enough players to cover injuries through a condensed and physically demanding series to be played over three successive weeks.
Another well-placed source: "Some players can't be in a position where they are in camp for six weeks and not being paid.
"It's will probably be a tiered split where it's likely that guys who play will get more than players that don't but everyone will need to be paid something.
"You can't have elite players who are in camp and not getting paid because they may not be playing."
NSW may set up base on the NSW Central Coast. A decision on whether Origin I will be played in Adelaide should be reached sometime in the next week. Game two will be contested in Sydney with a third match in Brisbane.
Originally published as 'Times are bloody tough': Origin stars face massive pay cut