Arrow will take a pay cut to move to Souths
Gold Coast Titans star Jai Arrow is committed to honouring his move to South Sydney next year, even if it means accepting a cut to his $3.2 million deal.
The NRL has a raft of issues to overcome as it deals with the financially crippling coronavirus pandemic which has seen the 2020 season suspended indefinitely.
One of the major sticking points is the $10 million salary cap for 2021, which could be slashed by up to 40 per cent as part of a financial overhaul at league central.
While ARLC chairman Peter V'landys is hoping to avoid cutting the salary cap, clubs are bracing for a $2 million-$4 million reduction to help the game become sustainable.
In December last year, Arrow signed a four-year deal worth about $800,000-a-season to join the Rabbitohs from 2021.
But potential changes to the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap could thrust the validity of the deal into the spotlight.
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Arrow, 24, was torn over the decision to leave his home town club, but said he would accept a pay cut to join Souths next year if the cap was slashed.
"If I have to take a pay cut next year because the salary cap goes down to keep the game alive then I'm more than happy to do that - that doesn't worry me one bit," Arrow told The Courier-Mail.
"I play the game because I love it. I'm very grateful I get paid to do what I love every day.
"There are people losing their jobs, lining up at Centrelink for hours. It's hard to see. I'm lucky and grateful to still be getting paid, for the time being.
"I signed a contract a while ago and I've stuck with it. I'm happy to go.
"It's a big move but I'm really looking forward to going down there, getting to know the boys and reuniting with Wayne (Bennett) and Jason Demetriou.
"I've first got to focus on getting back to playing this year for the Titans. If the season doesn't go ahead I'll be filthy with the way it finished (46-6 loss to Parramatta).
"I want to play again and do all I can to make that happen."
If the NRL and Rugby League Players' Association agree on a cut to the 2020-21 salary caps, the final two years of the current CBA, they would then need to decide how current contracts are handled.
A pro-rata system would see all contracts cut by the same percentage, but the issue of players looking to opt out of signed deals could arise.
Melbourne Storm pivot Cameron Munster said he is prepared to follow the lead of his Queensland Origin teammate Arrow and accept a reduced contract to save the NRL from going broke.
"If I had to renegotiate my contract to help the game I would do that," Munster said.
"I love playing rugby league and we are already well paid when you compare our salaries to other people in Australia.
"I've seen people lose their jobs and struggle to put food on the table, so as NRL players we should be the last guys to whinge.
"I'm more than happy to take a pay cut if it means all the clubs can survive."
V'landys is confident the RLPA will agree to the NRL's 2020 funding package in the coming days.
The players will receive $24.6 million in total, with $19.2 million to be provided by the NRL and the remaining $5.4 million to be available through the RLPA's injury-hardship fund.
Each player will receive their monthly wage for April and May, then get nothing for the final five months until October 31. That equates to a pay cut of 71 per cent from today, and 46 per cent across the 12-month financial year.
Arrow said the players had accepted cuts were inevitable.
"We're not dumb - we all understand we're going to have to take a pretty hard hit with pay cuts," he said.
"If that's what it takes to keep the game alive, then so be it.
"It obviously sucks but we're not the only ones taking pay cuts. It's everyone around the whole league and world.
"I don't know exactly what we'll have to take. We get two full pays then we'll know more.
"As long as I can pay my bills and look after myself, then I'm happy."
Originally published as Arrow will take a pay cut to move to Souths