Cleary provides perspective after NRL season suspension

Sam Pasfield

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blue Nathan Cleary has indicated he would accept a pay cut if it ensured the survival of rugby league in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled the globe.

The NRL announced last night it would suspend the competition on the back of advice from government health officials and biosecurity experts and travel bans that have been introduced by the Queensland and New Zealand governments.

NRL officials were set to keep the competition going to avoid the financial consequences of postponing matches but the fluid nature of the pandemic forced them to quickly change their position after a meeting of the ARLC on Monday afternoon.

“We’ve been getting told the whole week that it (the season) was still going and we were still trying to push forward but there was always that feeling there that it was a matter of time until it was going to get suspended,” Cleary told 100% Footy last night.

“I think at the moment it’s a bit surreal, a few people are pretty devastated but I think there’s a lot of people in worse off positions than we are and it just makes you think that there’s a lot more to life than football at the moment.”

The shutdown of leagues clubs on Monday by the Federal Government to try and slow the spread of coronavirus could impact on those NRL clubs reliant on them for revenue and Cleary believes players will face pay cuts to keep the game afloat.  

“I think whenever someone is told they’re getting a pay cut the first feeling is you’re not too happy about it but I think once you look deeper into it it’s just how it is,” Cleary said.

“You even look at the club, especially a club like Panthers just how much they’re financially losing is a massive toll – staff, income, it’s a lot more than what we’ll be losing ultimately and there’s a lot of people in small businesses losing jobs, they’ve got no income at all so I think we’re pretty lucky to have any money coming in.”