The Daily Telegraph has revealed that the annual survey, published by the RLPA, included Top 30 squad members, development players and those on train-and-trial deals and covered a number of topics, including employment conditions.
When asked how they felt about their finances, 24 per cent of participants indicated they were either struggling or just coping – which is a 14 per cent increase on results 12 months ago.
Though there are frequent reports of multi-million dollar deals done for headline players, the Telegraph reports that almost half of all current players are on contracts worth $150,000 or less. The minimum wage for players in the salary cap is $120,000, with the three final slots in a club's Top 30 earning $80,000.
The current median wage in Australia is reportedly between $80,000-$90,000 per annum.
The RLPA is now pushing for the minimum wage for all Top 30 NRL players to be raised to $150,000.
The issue becomes harder for those on train-and-trial deals, where players are currently earning an average of $1000 per week provided they complete three training sessions – although the desire to make it to that Top 30 comes at a heavier cost.
“The majority of boys the clubs want to keep are doing the exact same workload as the Top 30 players, so they can't have jobs on the side because training is full-time for them,” Canberra Raiders squad member Matt Frawley told the Daily Telegraph.
“They have to rely on that income to get through the week. Not only to live, but to live a professional athlete's life – eat properly, sleep properly – they're the ones struggling and that need support in the new CBA.
“The outside perception is that if you have an NRL contract or train with a team that you're doing well, but a lot of the time for anyone in that lower tier, it's not the case.
“I can't say I have seen examples of players not being able to pay their rent or mortgages, but these things could be happening and you would never know.
“As much as we are close mates and tight-knit, you don't talk about money struggles. There's a stigma around it.”
The survey revealed that nearly 30 per cent of players are currently supporting dependants other than their children, including parents, grandparents and siblings.