Cash-strapped Tonga and Fiji are in line for a hard-earned payday by making the semifinals of the Rugby League World Cup.

The disparity in wages between the top and second-tier teams has been a hot topic throughout the first month of the tournament with second-tier sides getting through the tournament on the smell of an oily rag, with minimal match fees and a $30 a day allowance.

The disgraced Kiwis, despite their early exit, collected a tournament fee of A$33,000 each from the NZRL and took home a daily allowance of $120.

They will also split A$35,000 as losing quarter-finalists.


The reigning champion Kangaroos will pocket A$50,000 in tournament fees alone if they retain their crown.

But at last, there's some parity with both Pacific Island teams guaranteed at least A$125,000 for making it to the semis.

And it could get better; the winners of tomorrow night's Australia-Fiji clash in Brisbane and Saturday's Tonga-England match in Auckland will earn at least A$150,000 for making the final, with A$300,000 awaiting the eventual World Cup winners.

How those spoils are divided is a decision for each team's management but prizemoney is traditionally split in half between the players and the country's governing body.

The rewards are vital for Tonga and Fiji, who have relied heavily on the generosity of sponsors, private benefactors and community fundraisers to cover operational costs.

The players have subsisted on the standard $30 per diem provided by tournament organisers to each of the 14 men's and six women's sides competing at their World Cups.

Every team also has their accommodation and travel costs covered which drastically eases their financial burden.

But Tonga are still going without some resources, such as a video analyst, that Australia, England and New Zealand take for granted.

Tongan players insist they have no complaints with the Kristian Woolf-coached side being well looked after by a small group of key sponsors, including one family who made a significant donation to the team's cause.

Fundraising events have also been profitable with the team coming away with $8000 from one in Hamilton and just under $15,000 from another in Christchurch.

Leveraging the team's increasing popularity and booming profile has also helped team management get the best bang for their buck when the players are on their days off.

A recent go-karting trip in Hamilton became cheaper when the business owner happily knocked 50 per cent off the quoted cost — on the proviso they could take photos of the players racing and snap a few selfies with stars such as Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita.

Tonga and Fiji are in line to receive at least AU$125,000 for making it through to the semi-finals of the World Cup. Photo / Photosport.
Tonga and Fiji are in line to receive at least AU$125,000 for making it through to the semi-finals of the World Cup. Photo / Photosport.

"I reckon this is the first camp that the boys get paid pretty good," said centre Konrad Hurrell.

"I guess it's not enough compared to Australia, New Zealand or England, but it's a lot to compare to what we've been getting the last few years.

"For us to get looked after very well this year has been amazing.

"The coaching and management staff have done a really good job especially with the sponsors, they've been good to us this year and the boys are overwhelmed. To be a part of this camp has been a blessing," he said.

"No one takes it for granted and it's been one of the best camps I've ever been to and I reckon the boys all feel like that as well."