A new survey among NRL players has made the shocking revelation that one in four current NRL players are experiencing financial distress due to the cost of living.

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.


  1. Let’s throw a few numbers around.

    Half the players earn $150K or less. That is 15 out of a club’s 30 man roster.

    Minimum salary $120K
    But apparently minimum salary for the last 3 players in the roster is $80K

    To bring those 15 players up to $150K would cost:
    3 players at $70K (ie $150K-$80K) = $210K
    12 players at $30K (ie $150K-$120K) = $360K

    The $360K assumes all those guys are on the $120K minimum, some may already be on more.

    So to get every one of the 30 man squad up to $150K would cost no more than $570K per club. Probably about $500K, I imagine.
    Seventeen clubs at $0.5M is $8.5M per year

    Could the NRL afford to increase the cap by that, and to fully fund the clubs to pay it?
    Without having seen the books, I would imagine the answer is yes, it could.

    Should they do it? That’s a different question.

    In May 2022, the average earnings for men, in the private sector, was $1,835.60 per week, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics on https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/earnings-and-working-conditions/average-weekly-earnings-australia/latest-release .

    That weekly figure equates to $95,450 per year.

    Given the short (and physically demanding) career of an NRL player, and the amount of enjoyment NRL brings to spectators/viewers, I feel that earning just 50% more than average weekly pay – which is what the NRLPA is asking – is not excessive.

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