The NRL's elite representative players will sacrifice a collective $3 million in Origin payments to ensure their minimum wage counterparts do not have their salaries impacted by a reduced salary cap.
Six months of negotiations between the NRL and Rugby League Players Association have finalised a six per cent reduction in the base salary cap for 2021 and 2022.
The revised CBA will see clubs operate to a $9.02 million cap this season – down from $9.6 million under the original agreement, and $9.11 million in 2022 – dropping from a planned $9.7 million.
With each NRL club saving just under $600,000 a year on salaries over the next two seasons, the savings amount to just under $19 million across player wages.
The six per cent salary sacrifice ensures that each club retains a top 30 NRL squad and at least three development players, avoiding the prospect of fringe first-graders being forced out of NRL deals by the financial impact of COVID-19.
NRL.com understands that the four minimum wage earners – $77,500 – in roster spots 27-30, and players on development contracts worth up to $60,000, won't have their salaries reduced under the new agreement.
Instead representative payments have been shorn in half for the next two Origin campaigns.
Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. ?Grant Trouville/NRL Photos Where NSW and Queensland players were entitled to $30,000 match payments and the Kangaroos earned $20,000 per Test match, those figures have been reduced to $15,000 for Origin and $10,000 for Australian appearances.
With representative players already earning six and sometimes seven-figure salaries, the RLPA pushed for any salary cuts to be felt at the top end of the game rather than by its minimum wage earners.
Origin players already gave up a combined $1.5 million for their involvement in the 2020 series, which saw match payments drop to $10,000 and extended squad members given a $2000 allowance each week.
Queensland and incumbent Australian skipper Daly Cherry-Evans serves as an RLPA director and said there was overwhelming support for the moves among players from both Maroons camp and clubland.