Splashing the cash: The most lucrative positions in the NRL revealed

Splashing the cash: The most lucrative positions in the NRL revealed


  • October 16, 2020 11:46am
  • Source: FOX SPORTS

Daly Cherry-Evans, James Tedesco and Damien Cook are some of the NRL’s top earnersSource: FOX SPORTS

In an exclusive column for Fox Sports, The NRL Economist reveals confidential salary arrangements which show the variety of salaries paid for each playing position.

The average salaries provided are not estimates. They reveal the officially lodged earnings across the entire NRL.

– Despite handling the ball more than any other player, hooker appears the most undervalued position averaging the second lowest salary across the competition.

– Five-eighths average higher incomes than halfbacks.

– Of the top-5 earners at each club, centres and back-rowers surprisingly earn more than hookers.

– Over a quarter of the NRL’s top-five earners at each club are props.

– Props account for the most players, with 98 of the 459 listed contracts.

– On average, clubs spend around $2 million of cap space on front-rowers.

– The least contracted positions are fullback and five-eighth.

– Halfback values greatly deviate, with the 9 best halfbacks averaging a hefty $917,829. This significantly drops to $372,599 when averaging all 33 contracted playmakers.


-Successful rosters are driven by clever cap management of lower to mid-range players, where surplus value is best extracted. These players (16-20 on each team’s list) are roughly valued at $170,000.

– Utility players are crucial. Their true value is intangible as they remove the need for expensive specialist backups in multiple positions. They lessen risk and free cap space for top-end marquee contracts. (Utilities are capable of starting in at least 3 of the 9 positions).

– Astute teams buy cheap centres or hookers capable of playing in expensive positions like the halves or fullback.

– Rosters will eventually reflect the increasing importance of wingers with larger contracts offered.

Average salaries by position in NRL

  1. Fullback $405,721

  2. Five-Eighth $393,815

  3. Halfback $372,599

  4. Prop $319,217

  5. Lock $317,207

  6. Back Row $304,933

  7. Centre $302,660

  8. Hooker $284,090

  9. Winger $221,076

Roosters fullback James Tedesco is one of the competition’s top earnersSource: Getty Images

Average salaries of top 1-5 earners from each team list (Total number of players contracted in brackets)

  1. Halfback (9) $917,829

  2. Fullback (9) $823,714

  3. Five-Eighth (8)$796,755

  4. Lock (7) $705,566

  5. Prop (21) $685,408

  6. Centre (9) $662,556

  7. Back Row (11) $641.076

  8. Hooker (4) $633,118

  9. Winger (2) $513.728

Average number of players contracted in each position per team

  1. Prop 6.13

  2. Back Row 5.06

  3. Centre 3.94

  4. Winger 3.44

  5. Lock 2.25

  6. Hooker 2.19

  7. Halfback 2.06

  8. Five-Eighth 1.81

  9. Fullback 1.81

Follow The NRL Economist Ramy Haidar on Twitter @ramy_haidar



This is quite an interesting article. Personally I think the least important position on the field these days is centre, example of this being Campbell Graham and how he’s being replaced tomorrow. I’ve long thought that wingers are hugely undervalued in the modern game, essentially working as an extra forward and for 80 min too


Thought hooker would rate higher

Its Friday night night. Stop.

So a average top 17 with 2 props & 2 backrowers on the bench

Costs $5.035 mil

While a team full of average top earners and average earners on the bench

Costs $10.135 mil

Shows you the overs the dogs must be paying

Top 4 teams have marquee hookers.

Shows how important it is then to have a quality Hooker in your side. Especially in the modern game. Other teams should take notes.

Last nights game showed how influential outside backs can be if unleashed on a less endowed opposition.
JAC, Vunivalu and Olam destroyed the Raiders with sheer power and speed.

They do mate this article is a tad delusional as the Hooker is extremely important to any teams attack.
All of the top attacking teams have the best Hookers available.
Smith, Cook, Koroisau, Hodgson but he is injured.

I don’t rate many of the others.
Way too slow!

To have an average of only $284,090 and a ratio of 2.19 that equates to 35 Hookers amongst the 16 clubs.
Most clubs second Hooker would be on the bare minimum for players 27 to 30 under the cap. $75k
Minimum for players 1 to 26 is $115k

What it doesn’t take into account is that the top teams do pay a pretty packet for their Hookers, so many others must be on peanuts.

D Cook is on about $750k
J Cook would be on $75k

For hookers its probably the fact its the rarest to be great at

Need to be small, quick, good passer, the best tackler on the field, a good decision maker and a kicking options. Oh and have an 80 minute tank, so you’re also the fittest on the field

All of those attributes really only describe Cam Smith. Then Cook a tier below that. Then the rest many tiers below them.

If you think of fullback, you can just be fast and catch the ball well and you’re half way to greatness.

I assume the article is basically accurate, hookers injured etc are presumably included
So it is what it is, clubs are getting away with not paying some hookers as much, whereas some clubs like us use our Hookers as a huge part of our attack & defence

Nobody knows what cook & cook are on

Josh Cook is definitely on the Minimum Contract Amount of $75k
He was promoted to our Top 30 from a $60k Development Contract.
It is accurate!

I doubt any amount you think players are on are all that accurate, you might guess one or two but as much as you’d like to believe it, you simply don’t know
It’s a good thing contracts are private between the club & player