NRL off-contract list 2022: Big-money stars David Fifita, Luke Brooks facing huge pay cuts
They’re some of the NRL's biggest earners - but these stars are facing huge pay cuts for their next deals. But how much will be slashed from their contracts? All is revealed inside.
David Fifita must brace for a $400,000 pay-cut with the Titans star failing to prove he’s worth more than his current $1.1 million contract.
That’s the opinion of rugby league legend Greg Alexander, who says Fifita’s next contract must be slashed.
“Let’s chop $400,000 off it, easily,’’ Alexander told SEN radio.
“That’s your starting point. He is a unique talent, but you just don’t see it often enough to be forking out $1.2 million.’’
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
Fifita is one of a host of soon-to-be off-contract huge-money earners that are facing a financial haircut.
Alongside the Gold Coast backrower, Luke Brooks ($1 million), David Klemmer ($800,000), Matt Lodge ($750,000), Luke Thompson ($725,000) and Thomas Burgess ($700,000) will hit the open market from November 1 - if their current clubs are unable, or opt against, striking a new deal.
Due to either salary cap pressure, their form or individual impact on results, their age or no longer being on the representative radar, it’s likely that the group of millionaires will need to reduce their salaries to prolong their NRL careers.
Brooks has already indicated he is willing to drop his salary given his request to join the Knights over summer on a deal valued at no more than $700,000 from Newcastle.
Brooks’ release request was ultimately rejected.
The recent success of the Wests Tigers and back-to-back wins will aid Brooks’ earning capacity, but ultimately Tigers management may wait until later in the year to determine whether their longest-serving playmaker is worth pressing ahead with.
Fifita was heralded as one of the Titans most significant signings after he rejected overtures to remain at the Broncos to head south to the Gold Coast in 2021.
Next season will be Fifita’s final contract year at the Titans with the final half of this season poised to prove defining over whether management table the damaging ball-runner a deal anywhere near his current earnings.
It’s due to his salary that Fifita has attracted weekly attention and spotlight over his at-times erratic involvement.
“If he’s getting big bucks, he’s got to have big performances,” league legend Wally Lewis told Wide World of Sports.
Other highest-paid players including forwards Klemmer, Thompson, Lodge and Burgess - all big and powerful men - have had to deal with a plethora of rule changes, designed to speed-up the game and suit the smaller and quicker players, which could also impact the earning capacity of their next deal.
SHOW ME THE MONEY: EELS RISK LOSING STARS IN NRL CONTRACT WAR
Parramatta have six months to usher Mitchell Moses into the million-dollar club or risk their star half heading to the open market.
The Eels, having only just put contract negotiations with some of their biggest names in the rear view mirror, have no time to rest.
Moses aside, they have a six-month window to extend the deals of Moses, Will Penisini, Nathan Brown, Dylan Brown, Jake Arthur, Bryce Cartwright and Shaun Lane.
PART ONE: HUGE CONTRACT SAGA LOOMS AS SOUTHS
All would have no trouble finding a home elsewhere on the open market.
Moses, however, shapes as the most daunting prospect for the Eels as they cast their gaze towards November 1 as he eyes a six figure pay rise.
The Eels superstar has an option in his contract for the 2024 season but he is unlikely to take that up unless there is a million-dollar commitment down the track given he is now regarded among the elite No. 7s in the game.
Daly Cherry-Evans has been a member of the million-dollar club for some time.
Nathan Cleary is well and truly in that wage bracket. So too Ben Hunt, who is coming to the end of a lucrative deal that has paid him seven figures for some time.
It’s an elite field but Moses doesn’t look out of place. His future shapes as one of the big talking points as clock ticks down to November 1, when more than 150 players worth more than $50 million will enter the final year of their current deals, making them free to sign deals with rival clubs.
Moses has a handful of teammates who the club would be keen to extend. Dylan Brown has rediscovered his best touch. Brown will earn $800,000 in his final year. The Eels have already opened negotiations with centre Penisini, who is regarded as one of the best young players in the game and can double his $250,000 salary.
Jake Arthur, son of Parramatta coach Brad, has already been offered to the Melbourne Storm and his future at the Eels may hinge on whether the club is able to reach new deals with Brown and Moses.
Playmakers occupy the most coveted – and well paid – positions in the game. There are no shortage of them up for grabs from November 1.
Jackson Hastings is in line for a big payday after making an instant impact since joining the Wests Tigers this year on a two year deal worth about $1 million.
Hastings has publicly stated how close he is to coach Michael Maguire and any extension at the Tigers would tie in with assurances that Maguire remains in charge of the club. He could command about $750,000 should he hit the open market.
Youngsters Izack Tago, Xavier Savage, Talatau Amone, Sam Walker, Selwyn Cobbo, Jeremiah Nanai and Penisini are in line for hefty paydays.
Cronulla have already opened discussions with the in-form Siosifa Talakai to upgrade him from his $250,000 contract and the Sharks are desperate to tie him down before November 1.
Veteran Moses Mbye is off-contract at the end of next season when his two year deal with St George Illawarra comes to an end.
He will be 30 when his contract expires and is about to enter the open market without a contract for the first time in his eight year career.
Mbye has switched clubs twice while under contract – first a mid-year switch from Canterbury to the Tigers and then to St George Illawarra this year with a year to run on his Tigers deal.
Mbye, who is part of the RLPA’s player advisory group, backed the current transfer system despite a push to introduce a trade window.
“I don’t think it needs changing,” Mbye said.
“It’s like anything, if you spend enough time looking at it you’ll find something to change. I don’t have an issue with it.
“This year will be the first time I’ve experienced it.”
Originally published as NRL off-contract list 2022: Big-money stars David Fifita, Luke Brooks facing huge pay cuts