Wakefield winger, Lee Kershaw has been forced to work through lockdown as a Hermes driver in order to put food on the table.
The 21-year-old, who has been furloughed since the Super League season was suspended and delivering parcels to make ends meet, after taking a pay cut at Trinity. may now be forced out of rugby league completely.
Kershaw is off-contract with Wakefield at the end of the season and has turned down a new contract. UK guidelines state that full-time workers aged between 21 and 24 should earn a minimum salary of £8.20 per hour. If Kershaw’s current contract were based on a 36-hour week, however, his Wakefield deal would see him earning less than the minimum wage despite having played six times at the elite level of rugby league, in the Northern Hemisphere.
He has been offered a pay rise but the contract currently on the table would put him only marginally above the minimum wage threshold, so Kershaw has turned down the offered contract and is on the lookout for a new club. A major stumbling block however, could prevent him from moving.
Kershaw is a product of Wakefield’s academy. Rules state that Trinity would be entitled to compensation if he joined another club; £150 for every week he has been attached to the Wakefield club. In effect, Trinity could command almost £40,000 in compensation for his leaving, despite the fact that he has been earning more recently, than during his five years contracted to that club.
A deterrent, naturally, for any interested clubs, as a result of which, Kershaw may have to switch codes to continue his career. A Rugby Union club would not be obliged to stump up the compensation fee so Kershaw would be free to leave Wakefield without it costing a penny.
The winger has therefore already spoken to several clubs in the 15-man code and is facing a future outside of the game.
“I’ve been offered a deal in rugby union,” he said. “If it’s a move I have to make that’s something I am willing to do.”