“There’s no one particular model that has been applied. We understand each is an independent business. We’re in it to make sure the game comes back in its best shape and form and that all of these guys come back with roles to do.”
Given the coaches aren’t bound by a salary cap, the clubs can pay them as much as they like, although their incomes are factored into a cap on football department spending. While each club will have a different capacity to pay their coaches following COVID-19, the newly formed Rugby League Coaches Association believes any pay cut should be uniform across the board.
“That would be an obvious thing to land on as a coaching association,” Egan said.
“To come out like the AFL did and say we are going to take a 20 per cent pay cut, we’re not at that stage.
“We can’t profess to that being the answer for us because the game doesn’t really understand what the financial model looks like at the moment.
“For the sake of the game, all of the head coaches have an understanding of [pay cuts], but we certainly haven’t had any discussions about what that will be.”
The Roosters and Wests Tigers are two of the clubs yet to stand down their coaches, although that will be one of the issues on their agendas when their boards meet on Friday.
While leading coaches like Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bennett and Trent Robinson can command salaries of around $1 million, some assistants are barely on six figures.
Unlike the AFL coaches union, a powerful collective that has been established for many years, the RLCA was only formed two months ago. They received initial funding from the NRL and were scheduled to receive more, although that has now ceased as Rugby League Central embarks on a savage cost-cutting exercise.
Even while they aren’t being paid, head coaches often remain the first port of call for players and staffers as they adjust to isolation. Egan said the RLCA must be considered as a major stakeholder as the game adjusts to its changing financial circumstances.
“As a collective, we’re all about advocating for the good of the game,” Egan said.
“But we can’t afford to isolate coaches out of a forward progression of these conversations. If the game is going to be reshaped, remodelled and changed . . . surely the elite knowledge of elite rugby league has to be a part of that conversation.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.