Gus Gould has offered a sobering reality check to the NRL players standing strong in the face of salary cuts as the NRL looks at all alternatives to keep the code afloat during the coronavirus crisis.
Gould hit out at the NRL hierarchy for their lack of planning after they revealed the code would be in catastrophic condition if the season were to be cancelled during the worldwide crisis.
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One of the proposed ways to help the NRL survive was a player salary cut if the season needed to be shortened.
Sydney Roosters veteran Mitchell Aubusson hoped to sit down with the players union in coming days to discuss the threat of a pay cut due to the coronavirus.
Aubusson and Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua were just a number of NRL players who expressed concern on Tuesday about the financial implications of a suspended season.
But Gould, speaking on the ‘Six Tackles with Gus’ podcast, offered a reality check noting the game was in crisis and anyway for it to stay afloat needed to be considered.
“If we only got so many games out this season and we only got so much money in, then I guess everyone’s going to have to take a haircut at some stage, including the players,” he said.
“It has to be considered and I think the players have to understand that as well.”
Gould said the players need to look after themselves as the future of the game revolves around the players getting in as many games as possible.
“The priority at the moment is for everyone in the game to work hard to keep the product going, because the future of the game really does depend on it,” he said on the podcast.
“If we don’t get our full quota of games, if the season has to be suspended for any length of time, I can’t stress how precarious that will be.”
Aubusson's comments come as it emerged players were privately growing anxious about mixed messages from league HQ about the pay cut threat.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg said the evolving situation had yet to reach that tipping point, however ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys said talks had begun.
Graham defends NRL’s decision
Cronulla star Wade Graham said the financial implications of a suspended season meant he backed the league's decision to push on with the season.
And while he acknowledged comments made by Cameron Smith to put the season on hold, Graham said others were more dependent on regular cashflow.
"If you're an established player, and you've done the right thing with your money, you're sitting OK," Graham said.
"But some guys are living, not pay cheque to pay cheque, but they rely so much on their income. People who work in the club are no different.
"So we need to be really smart and do what's best for the majority of people."