NRL salary cap magic number to reach historic milestone

The NRL salary cap is set to crash through the $10 million barrier next season with players to be paid more money than at any other time in the code’s history.

At a meeting of all club chairpersons on the eve of the State of Origin series opener in Sydney it was revealed the NRL is preparing to lift the salary cap to $10.5 million in 2023, and raise it incrementally each year during the next broadcast cycle.

The news will be a welcome relief to all 17 clubs as clarity finally starts to emerge around the game’s financial forecast, despite the final figure yet to be negotiated with the Rugby League Players Association.

According to sources familiar with the situation, NRL clubs have been told the total player payment pool is likely to increase to at least $10.5 million next year and then swell by $100,000 for each subsequent year.

The NRL is preparing to intensify talks with the players’ union over the collective bargaining agreement in coming weeks, with the salary cap to be a key item on the agenda, and subject to agreement with the game’s players.

But nervous clubs finally have a guideline on how much money they will have to spend in finalising their last roster spots for the 2023 season.

NRL players are set to benefit from an increased salary cap worth more than $10 million next year.Credit:Getty

This year’s salary cap is set at $9.4 million for a top 30 squad, with $9.118m comprising a base salary cap after the players’ union accepted pay cuts at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

There is also a $188,000 veteran and developed player allowance and $94,000 for motor vehicle allowances.

But there is expected to be a rise of at least $1 million next year. That will be a huge bonus for some of the game’s biggest stars, who have their contracts tied to ratchet clauses which allow their wage to be set at a certain percentage of the salary cap.

The NRL will also have to provide an extra grant next year to the Dolphins, who will enter the competition as the code’s 17th franchise.

The RLPA has asked the NRL to provide further detail on the code’s financial picture before entering the next stage of CBA talks, with the issue of representative payments to also be tabled.

NSW and Queensland players earn $15,000 per match under a revised pay deal struck in 2020, down from the $30,000-a-game bonuses they were lavished with before the pandemic.

Rugby League Central announced a $43 million surplus for its last financial year, a figure helped by the fact an extra Origin series fell within the window after the delayed 2020 interstate contest.

The NRL is also looking into an incentive scheme to potentially fund clubs commensurate to the amount of work they do in junior development and increasing participation numbers.

Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys has highlighted the code’s worrying numbers of junior participants as a main focus of the next part of his chairmanship.

Watch the State of Origin exclusively live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.

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