NSW great Elias says players deserve more
Former NSW Origin captain Ben Elias may have bled for his state for the paltry sum of $200 but he believes the current crop of representative players are grossly underpaid.
Elias, who last played for the Blues in 1994, said short-changed players deserved to be paid more than $20,000 per match.
It’s estimated an Origin series generates up to $35 million with the 34 players earning $2 million or around six per cent.
They are pushing for $50,000 a game.
“It’s like Bon Jovi coming out here singing and the promoters are going to get 90 per cent and you guys have got 10 per cent; there’s no way that’s going to happen,” Elias told AAP on Wednesday.
“The players are the entertainers and the superstars of the game and if not for these people there’s nothing.”
Elias represented NSW 19 times, captaining them in six games between 1990-91.
An exhausted Elias, completed with a bloodied face after helping NSW to a 14-6 win in game one of the 1992 series, is an enduring memory.
Now successfully involved in mining and property development and on the board of the Wests Tigers, Elias said salaries between his era and the current crop couldn’t be compared.
“We got paid $500 a win and $200 a loss but there’s been an explosion of money in that area because they’ve acknowledged what the game generates,” he said.
“Percentage wise it’s a pittance, it’s embarrassing.
“People might say no individual is bigger than the game but the players are the game.”
He likened the intensity of State of Origin rugby league clashes to a boxing world championship.
“The physical blows are frightening.
“The physical contact week in week out these players go through let alone Origin, and the remuneration … you work that out over a life-time it’s not really that much.”
He criticised the Rugby League Players’ Association, describing it as “very weak” and said it need to be emancipated from the NRL/ARL Commission.
“The Players Association is paid for by the NRL and if you’re being paid by your employer you’re going to be very soft,” Elias said.
“There’s a real conflict of interest and that’s where the players are missing out and that disturbs me as an ex-player.
“They need to be represented by an independent organisation.”© AAP 2013
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