Australia players agree to pay cut to force through landmark Tonga Test

Australia’s national players have taken a sizeable pay-cut from their usual match fee to represent the Kangaroos in order to ensure October’s Test with Tonga goes ahead.

The game, which is expected to be played in Auckland on October 20, has even had support from the King of Tonga to try and ensure it goes ahead to maximise on the Tongans’ impressive run to the World Cup semi-finals last year.

And the head of the Rugby League Players’ Association, Ian Prendergast, has told the Australian players will take far less than their usual $20,000 fee for one less than $5,000 – the same as what Tonga’s players will receive – to make sure the game gets the go-ahead.

“The players have agreed in principle to this match and they understand the interest in it,” Prendergast admitted.

“They’re supportive of the international game and waiving they’re rights to the match payment that they’d otherwise receive for a Test match of this nature – they need to be commended for that.

“We’re still working through those details but it may be that the Australians receive a very small match payment, the same as the Tongan boys and that’s something that they’re willing to accept on a one-off basis to get this game across the line.”

Prendergast also insisted that the NRL have played a pivotal role in making sure the game gets the go-ahead, too.

“Players from both nations have also been vocal in their support for this match,” he said. “The NRL has worked tirelessly to ensure this Test match goes ahead and we are certainly hopeful that it will.

“There are many factors to be considered prior to scheduling this Test Match.

“One challenge is player workload. Following a World Cup in 2017 the Kangaroos were scheduled for a light international schedule this year, with their only planned Test being against New Zealand on October 13.

“Clearly it is difficult to place any proposal before the playing group while the details of the proposed fixture are not known.

“In this case, once we had a solid commercial model we very quickly engaged the playing group through the RLPA. Ultimately our aim has always been to see this match go ahead while also ensuring that it is commercially viable.

“As far as the broader international calendar is concerned, we are diligently working through several issues with the RLIF and other nations, and welcome any constructive input from the RLPA.”