NRL cutbacks to leave ton of talent facing axe
They could become the NRL's lost 100 players.
News Corp Australia can reveal expected COVID-19 cutbacks could see anywhere between 100 and 130 players left without an NRL club from next season.
"It's a lot of players," stressed one NRL coach.
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The NRL is locked in top-level talks with the RLPA about reductions in salary cap and roster sizes for 2021. The 2019 salary cap for each club is $9.6m.
Coaches claim the salary cap cut could be reduced by between five to ten per cent, prompting the current 30-man squad to be cut back to 28, or even 26.
And coaches are also anticipating having their six development player limit reduced to two, maybe three.
That could mean six to eight players from each club may be pushed out through coronavirus-enforced reductions. It could save the game up to $1m.
The cost-cutting would see squeezed-out players forced back to second or even third tier competitions to continue their football careers.
News Corp Australia had it confirmed on Wednesday night that the NRL were in discussions about axing squad sizes due to a smaller salary cap.
All costs throughout NRL clubs will be trimmed. Some assistant coaches fear losing their jobs.
NRL coaches and chief executives are contacting one-another regularly to discuss the proposed slicing of costs from League Central, who have managed to keep the game moving despite haemorrhaging money this year.
One NRL coach said: "Everyone is in a holding pattern at the moment because the NRL decides how many players…it won't be 30. It will be 28 or even 26 because of costs.
"And development players, it was six but they say it will come down to either two, three or four. It's a lot of players. The grant may stay the same but costs will come down.
"Clubs will have to trim their salary cap and their budget. These are interesting days. There's no money."
Another club CEO said: "There is talk the salary cap may be cut by ten percent but I think five percent is a more realistic figure."
Despite their concerns over squad numbers, NRL coaches are not involved in the NRL-RLPA negotiations.
Development players who have already signed existing deals will be permitted to honour their current contracts.
One official close to the NRL said: "If players are squeezed out of their NRL squads, it doesn't mean they will be lost to the game. They would go and play in a second-tier competition, default back to the next level of the game."
Given negotiations are continuing, the NRL is unable to confirm their final cut back figures.
Originally published as NRL cutbacks to leave ton of talent facing axe