NRL players have started to give their reactions to the news that the league has been shutdown for the foreseeable future, with disappointment and nervousness being the main thought.
South Sydney hooker Damien Cook spoke earlier on Monday about the future of the league and how he discussed with his wife the potential to be isolated in North Queensland to ensure that games will continue.
Cook told the Sydney Morning Herald: “I’m emotional at the moment because you don’t know where it’s going to go from here. You can only hope it’s short term. I think I was hoping and holding on thinking if we could get through a month, we might start coming out the other side, the virus would start to slow down and we’d be able to kick on”
“And with Peter V’landys in the job, and the way he was talking, we had a lot of confidence we’d be alright. But it looks like they had their hand forced on Monday.
“We know we will have to take a pay cut. A lot of the younger boys are not on massive contracts and we will want to make sure they’re all right.
“A club [going broke] is the worst thing that could happen out of all this. I’m sure everyone would agree they will do whatever they can to help keep clubs alive. There are certainly some clubs in tough positions. Everyone will have to come together.”
Concerns have been raised that the proposed 50 per cent pay cut for players still may not be enough to ensure the financial viability of clubs.
Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher was forced to close five leagues clubs at midday Monday, before the shutdown announcement came through in the afternoon.
“This is disastrous,” Fletcher said. “Even with all the assets we’ve got, it’s still going to be a battle to survive this.
“The biggest problem is who is going to pay the players? The TV broadcasters won’t give it to the NRL and the NRL can’t give it to us.
“We can manage it, but everyone will have to take a decent haircut.”
Training was ordered to not happen on Tuesday and there is now a possibility that players could be in breach of isolation rules if they come together for training, particularly with the league suspended.
Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson was with his neighbour, Manly centre Brad Parker, when the shut down announcement was made and he had many of his teammates getting in touch with their questions and concerns.
“It’s horrible right now, we don’t know what’s going on,” Gutherson said. “I’m shocked. It’s weird. Everyone involved in the game, their families, their partners, everyone who relies on rugby league, we don’t know what’s going to happen.
“I’ve had three people from my team call me already to see what’s going on. We’ll get through it, I’m sure we will, it’s just a matter of when and how and what happens in between.”
Gutherson spoke of his willingness to play until the end of the year to ensure that the season is completed, stating “I’ll happily play on Christmas Day if we have to.”
Among all the doom and gloom, Gutherson saw the lighter side of the situation. “As it stands we’re the minor premiers.”