The NRL and Rugby League Players Association have come to an agreement over player pay with NRL players set to sacrifice five months pay if the game doesn't restart in 2020.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and RLPA CEO Clint Newton met with some of the NRL's biggest stars on Thursday evening to seal the deal.

Under the deal, they'll will receive a combined $24.6 million to last until the end of the normal contract cycle in November, with just over three quarters of it coming from club grants.

The rest will come from the liquidation of the injury hardship fund, while players will also have early access to the retirement account if they hit financial troubles.


"We just got to get the competition going again for everyone's sake," Warriors CEO Cameron George told Matt Brown of NZME.

"At the present time we're doing our best to weather the storm but the important thing for me is to take a deep breath and make sure we look after our staff in the meantime and make the right decision with the model going forward."

George said he thinks all the NRL clubs can survive under this new financial model.

"I can only talk on behalf of our club, we're very committed to getting through it. We're going to have to make some very difficult decisions, but we can achieve everything we have to over next three months and make sure we're still around. I have no doubt we'll get through it, the other clubs have different scenarios they have to weigh up."

Speaking on Fox League Live, NRL champion and former star Cooper Cronk said it was a big bite out of the pay packets.

"It's a big sacrifice and big decision," Cooper Cronk said of the decision. "We aren't a part of the discussions but rugby league and players have copped their whacks and rightly so. But this is a monumental selfless act in my opinion.

"The first of July is the target date to start the competition, that's all we know at this point about how it might look."

Sydney Roosters captain Boyd Cordner said he knew it would be a big salary sacrifice for the NRL stars but said having it finally confirmed would take a bit weight off the players' minds.


Braith Anasta said it was "bigger than I thought".

He said he also hoped the rest of the league would do what the Roosters were doing and helping the players on the smaller contracts to survive the tough times.

"If the top-tier guys look after the lower-tier, you'll get rewarded in terms of performance," Anasta said. "When you're in a team and sacrifice for each other, it galvanises teams and you can use it as a positive to bring the team closer together."

Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker was in the meeting and said it was a relief to have finalised the deal.

"It's obviously been a difficult time there for everyone. I know how hard the RLPA have been working. They're bent over backwards for everyone really. It's nice to have something finalised," he said.

"The whole world is in the same boat, everyone's struggling together. No one enjoys a pay cut. I've never met a bloke who wants to take a pay cut. For the sake of the club and the game it's the way it has to be.


"It's the way the world is. Everyone in every job is going to have to take a hit somewhere along the lines."

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg will also face the same cuts, under an agreement reached earlier this week.

New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders. Photo / NRL.
New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders. Photo / NRL.

"This is a difficult time for our game and the wider community and the challenges we face are immense, and unprecedented," Greenberg said. "The players understand the severity of the circumstances we face and have demonstrated their willingness to work with us to secure the best possible outcome to protect the long-term future of our game.

"I know it hasn't been easy and I thank the RLPA and the playing group for their maturity, professionalism and diligence in helping us reach this solution."

As part of the deal, the NRL will also resource the wellbeing and education space at each club to ensure players have any support required.

The deal comes after the NRL and the 16 clubs agreed to a combined $40 million package on Monday which would help keep sides viable while matches are not being played.


But there are also reports coming out of The Daily Telegraph that the Project Apollo team helmed by Wayne Pearce are trying to get the players back on the field within eight weeks.

The NRL have already said July 1 is the intended restart date with conferences being suggested as well as being housed at Sydney Olympic Park, Gosford or the Institute of Sport in Canberra as well as Queensland options.

It comes as the ambitious manager of the Queensland resort offering to house all 16 teams during the coronavirus pandemic has outlined just how he believes the league could pull it off.

David James is adamant the Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, an hour from Brisbane, is fully equipped to accommodate the some 500 players and staff needed for the competition to play out.

"We can sleep about 1500 people," James told League Life on Fox Sports. "The greatest thing is we can isolate the place. We can lock it down.

"We started talking about it a few weeks ago and we put together a plan logistically about how we can isolate players into the resort itself.


"We're off the coast of Brisbane and we want to go through a process with the NRL and the Queensland government - and the NSW government for that matter - whereby we're testing players before they come into an isolated, clean COVID- free environment.

"From there, we do the training and then we can ship them back into and out of Brisbane to the Gold Coast and to Redcliffe to play their games and then back into the isolated area."

While it still feels some way away, Cronk said he would consider the NRL island proposal if he was still a player.

"I think I'd do it, depends on my age," he said. "If it happened this time last year, I'd be thinking 'thanks but not thanks'. But then my love for the teammates would pull through in that regards. So I would do it but the thing for me is the guys with kids, wives, girlfriends, if you get move off-shore, how do you do that because they contribute at home as well. Purely football based, it's a good decision but other ones, not so sure."

Rugby league super coach Phil Gould believes it still a pipe dream however, reiterating that he can't see how the NRL can start up again safely now that it's been shut down.

"It's easy to say that we could have continued, I think we could have continued, I don't think the players were a threat to society and I don't think the community was a threat to the players, because they were isolated," Gould told Wide World of Sports' Six Tackles with Gus podcast.


"They're more susceptible to getting the virus now than what they were being in the rugby league environment and being quarantined away as professional athletes and just trying to provide content but that would have been difficult for them too.

"Now that we're suspended I think we're subject to government policy and whatever the medicals are telling us. I'd like to be proven wrong, he's a genius Peter V'landys, but personally I don't see it." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website