Off the Wall

The comparison between what Origin players receive and NRL premiership players receive per match makes interesting reading.

Tonight's 34 origin players will earn $20,000 each - win lose or draw. But they will only actually receive $12,000 each because $8,000 per game goes into a retirement fund for the player.

Let's take a NRL first grade player earning between $200,000 and $300,000 a year. If you exclude a couple of games for injuries, that represents somewhere between $10,000 and $13,000 a game.

Surely Origin representation is worth more than double a run of the mill premiership appearance?

But the case for higher Origin payments looks even more compelling when you look at the forensic examination of Origin revenues Roy Masters sets out in the "Sydney Morning Herald" today.

The total revenue the ARL/NRL will gain for the sell out 2011 Origin series will be around $23 million, about half of it from gate takings. The rest comes from sponsorships, corporate boxes and merchandise sales.

And that does not include the broadcast rights revenue which is packaged in with premiership, finals and test matches so is difficult to accurately define. But it must be over $10 million a year - and isn't that undervalued.

But let's just regard the direct revenue - gates, corporate revenue, sponsors and merchandising. So the revenue is around $23 million for the series.

The total payments to the players will be just over $2 million...barely TEN PER CENT of the total take.

I wonder how much goes in business class travel, accommodation, limousines and entertainment for the ARL, NSWRL, QRL and NRL executives, spouses and hangers on?

If the NRL cannot afford more than piddling increases in the salary cap for NRL clubs, it should lift payments for Origin representation. A starting point would be $30,000 a match in 2012, and more if the television rights deal delivers what is hoped for in 2013.

Higher Origin payments would be an incentive for players to extend their Origin careers, and, quite frankly give them what they deserve - more than 10 per cent of the total Origin revenue pool.

And it might take some pressure off clubs with a number of Origin players who demand more contract money once they achieve Origin representation, as they are entitled to.

And given the pressure Origin players are under these days, $30,000 a match (before tax and super) would hardly be excessive.

Sure Origin players enjoy luxurious accommodation and all expenses met in Origin camps. And some, but not all, pick up sponsorships and other deals as a result of their Origin status.

But the payments they earn need to be linked to the total revenue their appearances earn.

One more thought on this year's Origin series.

The banter and PR stunts that are part and parcel of Origin are fine. I love the replays of the interview with Tommy Raudonikis who, when asked what the Maroons needed to do to stop then then Blues winning streak offered the comment "bash Andrew Johns". When told it was no longer politically correct to suggest, let alone do, that he responded "well if they want to win that is what they need to do".

This year, there has been too much nonsense and nastiness...and it has come principally from the media on both sides of the border.

We can do without things going to excess. Origin stands tall. It benefits from good spirited banter between fans, commentators and the like.

And it could also do without politicians trying to grab some of the Origin limelight, as is happening again in the run-up to Origin Three. Can't they leave fans alone just for one day???

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