Players take pay cut as NRL makes 'full steam ahead' pledge for May 28 restart

By Sports Desk May 05, 2020

NRL players have accepted a pay cut and will all be back in training on Wednesday after the league vowed it would be "full steam ahead" to a May 28 resumption.

Just two rounds of the 2020 season were completed before the coronavirus pandemic forced the NRL to halt in March.

Now the competition is set to return behind closed doors, with Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys forecasting "all eyes" would be on the NRL.

Players have agreed a pay package that will see them guaranteed 80 per cent of contracted payments, the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) said.

The New Zealand Warriors trained on Tuesday and all other sides will now follow, initially in small groups before working as normal from next week.

V'landys said in an NRL statement that the league would closely protect its players, vowing: "Our players will be safer in the rugby league environment than they would be in the regular community."

With games to be broadcast from the moment the league returns, V'landys believes rugby league will have an opportunity to sell itself.

He said: "It is full steam ahead for the resumption of the competition on May 28.

"All eyes will be on the NRL as the only live sport on television. There will never have been more interest in rugby league than on May 28.

"Rugby league is part of the social fabric of so many communities. In these difficult times it will provide a tonic for so many seeking a form of normality during a period where nothing is normal."

He thanked players for "making significant sacrifices", notably the New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm players who have relocated to New South Wales to allow the league to start up again.

V'landys said: "The New Zealand Warriors and the Melbourne Storm have had to leave their homes and their families and on behalf of all rugby league fans we thank them for that and we thank all players who will be living with stronger restrictions than current government health orders."

RLPA chief executive Clint Newton said players were "excited" by the prospect of returning to action.

He added: "Like many in our community, players will have changed domestic arrangements and an added weight of responsibility with time away from family and reduced payments – but one thing that won't be impacted is their effort on the field and their commitment to the game and its fans."

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