The NRL is set for a new pay war across the competition, however, this time it isn't the players wanting a bump in their salary, it's the men who manage them.

The agreement between the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) states that the players share in any significant change in the game's finances, whether it be an upside or a downfall to their salaries.

All players were forced to take a pay cut during the initial COVID lockdown of 2020 after news of the NRL raiding the player's retirement fund, however, players are set to now receive an 'outperformance payment' due to the NRL being in a much better financial point than initially expected, reimbursing players for their sacrifice.

Still, some don't believe the payments should solely extend to the playing group.

Player agents believe they have deserved a slice of the one-off payment, which could take millions out of the pockets of players before they receive it.

The 'outperformance payment' is sitting at around $38.5 million to be divided between those that took a pay cut in order to keep the game going, but with player agents normally recouping on average 6.5% of a respective player's income, it could see $2.5 million of the payment go into the agent's pockets, something the Rugby League Player Agents Association (RLPAA) is pushing for.

The Sydney Morning Herald obtained a letter sent by the RLPA to the competition's players, outlining that the payment should solely belong to the playing group, and not the agents.

“The player agents association (RLPAA) are of the view that agents fees are payable on these payments,” the letter states.

“Our view is that the out-performance payments do not form part of the Playing Fees received by players under the standard NRL Player Contract. Notwithstanding some inaccurate media commentary, such payments are not a reimbursement or back-payment of any agreed reduction in Playing Fees during Covid but represent the distribution of out-performance under the agreed mechanism in the revised CBA negotiated between the NRL and RLPA.

“It follows that in our view the out-performance payments are not subject to any authorised automatic agent fee deduction arrangements that may currently be in place between players and the Clubs. We have also consistently stated that if you and your agent want to discuss and agree a fee being payable to them in respect of the out-performance payments, then that is matter for each individual player. But it should not affect payment getting made by the Club to you in the first instance.

“We have been and will continue to endeavour to resolve this disagreement as a matter of urgency.”

South Sydney's Damien Cook is an advisory member of the RLPA, and his thoughts are in line with that of the player's association.

“From that revenue share that the players are entitled to - and the managers aren’t - we are using that in good faith, distributing that back to players who took those cuts in 2020 and 2021, some are not even playing now,” Cook said.

“We could have put that all in retirement funds and nothing would have been said. It’s a revenue share for the game doing so well, it’s not a reimbursement.

“I spoke to my manager, Mario Tartak, he was supportive of where we are at and that’s for it to go back to the players. I’ve got good support from him there.”

While the RLPA's intentions are clear, it seems a war between the players and agents is inevitable as tensions begin to rise between the client and their manager.


  1. Maybe I’m missing something subtle (and not having seen the written agreements) but my take would be that if the agents took a revenue hit when the players payments were reduced, then they would have a plausible case for claiming extra money now.

  2. 100% OldHarry.

    The RLPA have tried to make the payment a “performance payment” & not reimbursement for the pay cut everyone took (including the agents). Newton is not keen on the agents & is attempting to drive a wedge between the agents & the players. V’Landys & Abdo should have seen this coming & headed it off.

    Watch this space.

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