A pay dispute could reportedly be looming large over the State of Origin series, with players still earning about half of their salaries for the interstate rivalry.
The pay cut was taken in agreement with the NRL during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the game’s financial situation – and Australia’s economy as a whole – looked to be in a perilous state.
A pay dispute involving New South Wales and Queensland players could be on the horizon
However, the NRL’s latest financial figures shows it made a $43million profit last year, despite handing out cash grants to the 16 clubs to support them during the pandemic.
Revenue in 2021 rose 37 percent year-on-year, climbing to $575.1million and the NRL has open discussions with Rugby League Players Association boss Clint Newton over payments, as players want their salaries to match the NRL’s increase in revenue.
Origin was played in Townsville, Gold Coast and Brisbane last year, with coronavirus restrictions forcing the NRL to move games away from Sydney and Melbourne.
Players involved in Origin receive still 50percent less than they did before the pandemic
State of Origin host Game III of the 2021 State of Origin in front of just over 52,000 fans
Attendance over the three games combined came in at just over 106,000, with Suncorp Stadium accounting for almost half of that figure.
The Brisbane venue will host Game III of the series this year, with Game I played at the 83,500-capacity Accor Stadium in Sydney and Game II at Optus Stadium in Perth, which can host 65,000 fans.
Bigger venues will translate into bigger ticket and corporate sales, resulting in a sharp increase in the revenue the NRL makes from Origin.