When we hear people talking about millions of dollars that sports players are earning, surely most of us immediately think of football starts like Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar, NBA basketball players or gold and tennis players who play individual sports and earn millions in wages and sponsorship contracts.
Yet, these are not the only sports players who are making good money, and rugby league is not a sport played just for passion and competition. Some of the highest paying players in the game are also earning millions of dollars in wages and while they may not be in the spotlight as much, the sport has made them rich.
So, who are a few of the highest paying rugby league players in the game today?
Daly Cherry-Evans: The Manly Sea Eagles made Cherry-Evans the best paid NRL player at the beginning of the season, offering him a lifetime deal that will see him stay at the club for the remainder of his professional career and which will net him approximately $1.3 million per season, more than any player currently in the competition.
The halfback backed out of a four year deal with the Titans in order to take this long term deal and there has been some controversy regarding his actions in not honoring his commitment to the Gold Coast team. Yet, it seems the played seems fairly unconcerned with these accusations and looks forward to his future career at the Manly Sea Eagles.
Billy Slater: The 33 year old fullback signed a new contract with his club, the Melbourne Storm, which will see him earn $1.2 million for this and next season, making him another member of the million a year club in rugby league and one of the best paid players of all times.
Slater started his career at Storm as a 19 year old back in 2003 and clearly intends to end his career at the club that gave him everything and made him their all-time best tryscorer. His contract will last all the way into 2017, when the player is expected to retire and enter the ranks of the rugby legends.
The fullback was fairly adamant about wanting to keep playing for two more seasons back when he signed this contract in March last year and has since shown that he intends to keep going for as long as health and fitness will allow him. A new shoulder injury earlier this year has seen him hit the sidelines for quite a while and his return to NRL is under a big question mark at this moment, but his contract still makes him one of the best paid players in the league, even while injured.
Johnathan Thurston: Another one of the league’s best players, North Queensland Cowboys’ Johnathan Thurston is reported to be earning $1.2 million per year, much like Billy Slater. The two players are the same age as well and was the best paid player in the league until Cherry-Evans took the title from him just recently.
Thurston is expected to end his career as a Cowboy in 2018 and his contract should see him scoop a few more millions before all is said and done. Thurston’s Cowboys are currently fighting for the top spots on the table, 8 points behind the leaders, Melbourne Storm.
The Role Of Money in Rugby League
While you would hardly see the best paid football player play in a club that is ranking mid table in the top competitions, the top paid rugby league player currently plays for the Sea Eagles, who are ranked 12/16 with little hope of making significant results this season.
While most of the other top paid players do play at the top clubs, it is fairly safe to say that the relatively well synchronized salaries in the NRL make the league and the sport in general much more balanced than many other games, where all the best players are playing in just a few clubs, chasing the top salaries.
With the development of rugby league as mainstream sport, we can expect the salaries to keep going up and the top players to start chasing the fat contracts more and more. How well the league will regulate this remains to be seen and we can only hope that the money will not start ruling rugby league as much as it currently rules many other competitive sports.
Do you believe that the Storm have what it takes to go all the way and win the NRL this season with Billy Slater on the sidelines?
The bookies currently have them at 13/5 to win it all, while Thurston’s Cowboys are priced at 3/1. To find out all the odds and make your own predictions on the outcome of the NRL season, make sure you check out openodds.com where you can find all the info and the best place to bet on the NRL season winners, guaranteed.