Canberra Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker welcomed the NRL's revised pay deal for players amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) reached an agreement on financial measures while the competition is suspended on Thursday, with the 24.6million Australian dollars deal seeing players earn two months wages and payments.

Due to the postponement of the 2020 season, players will surrender five out of 12 months' salary if the NRL is unable to resume.

"It's obviously been a difficult time. I know how hard the RLPA have been working. They've bent over backwards for everyone really," Croker told

"The whole world is in the same boat, everyone's struggling together. No one enjoys a pay cut. I've never met a bloke who wants to take a pay cut. For the sake of the club and the game it's the way it has to be.

"Everyone in every job is going to have to take a hit somewhere along the lines. Unfortunate time for everyone but to the boys' credit, they're still positive.

"It's a stressful time for everyone, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. We all have families to provide for. But we're hanging tough. The whole NRL is the same, they're just trying to get what's best for their families and team-mates."

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg added: "The players understand the severity of the circumstances we face and have demonstrated their willingness to work with us to secure the best possible outcome to protect the long-term future of our game.

"I know it hasn't been easy and I thank the RLPA and the playing group for their maturity, professionalism and diligence in helping us reach this solution."

Meanwhile, RLPA CEO Clint Newton said: "Players will share in this pain while games are suspended and have done what was required to ensure the game's short- and longer-term future.

"However, we want to be clear that this arrangement is based on the worst-case scenario, should we not get back on the field in 2020.

"Based on the current financial position of the game, the information we have been provided and the guarantees we have secured, we believe that this is a fair deal and we have secured the best outcomes for our members, while ensuring they are protected and included upfront in decision making long-term."

Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson said NRL players are facing one final pay cheque as Australia's rugby league competition feels the pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NRL announced on Monday it was suspending its 2020 season until further notice amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed at least 21,200 people worldwide.

The financial impact is set to hit NRL clubs hard, like many sports and leagues around the world, and Englishman Hodgson is unsure what the future holds.

"There is a potential we may not get anything," Hodgson said.

"We only finished playing last week. To say we might not even get paid in two weeks is a weird one.

"I think we are guaranteed one pay but after that I am not sure."

The Raiders opened their new multi-million-dollar Centre of Excellence only three weeks ago, but it will shut down on Friday with all staff placed on indefinite leave.

"Some of that is paid, some of that is unpaid for those that don't have any annual leave left," Raiders CEO Don Furner said on Thursday.

"The coaching staff are here for another month and there's uncertainty about what we'll be doing with them after the end of April, more than likely they'll be taking unpaid leave.

"We've got young staff here that are pregnant, just about to give birth, some have bought houses, some are not sure what their job prospects are and then the same with the football staff, there's not a lot of jobs available in that space.

"With regards to the players, we're still working with the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in terms of what will happen with their pays going forward.

"We've just moved into this facility here. It costs a lot to run and we're shutting it down. We're emptying the pools, cutting back on ground maintenance, cleaning services, all your regular services that you would normally utilise are all being cut back because we cannot afford to run this place.

"It's magnificent, we only opened it three weeks ago, the staff are all moving in today and tomorrow from Bruce and that will be their last day."

Defending NRL champions Sydney Roosters succumbed to a second straight defeat to start the season as Daly Cherry-Evans' late drop-goal gave Manly Sea Eagles a 9-8 win.

Cherry-Evans split the uprights with a one-pointer in the 76th minute to settle a tight encounter played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier, Tom Trbojevic and Daniel Tupou traded tries and Reuben Garrick and Kyle Flanagan a pair of penalties each before Cherry-Evans landed the decisive blow.

Melbourne Storm staged a late fightback to see off Cronulla Sharks 12-10 in a rematch of the 2016 Grand Final.

The Sharks led 10-4 going into the final 10 minutes. However, Cameron Smith converted Tui Kamikamica's try to level the scores and the veteran hooker slotted over a penalty four minutes from time to make it two wins from two for The Storm.

Canberra Raiders also have a 100 per cent record through two games after easing past New Zealand Warriors 20-6.

Brisbane Broncos held on to spoil North Queensland Cowboys' housewarming party with a 28-21 victory on Friday, while Canberra Raiders crushed Gold Coast Titans in their NRL season opener.

The Cowboys' first competitive match at their new Queensland Country Bank Stadium saw four tries before half-time - two for each side - with Valentine Holmes crashing over for the hosts on his return to rugby league after a stint in NFL.

But the Broncos pulled clear by running in three more tries in the space of 20 minutes after the restart, David Fifita scoring the pick of them with an impressive solo effort.

Despite late efforts from Gavin Cooper and Ben Hampton, the visitors saw the match through to kick off their campaign in winning style.

Earlier, Jack Wighton starred to help the Raiders start 2020 the way they finished last season as they cruised to a 24-6 win over the Titans at the GIO Stadium.

Australia international Wighton took advantage of the Titans' weak defence to score twice in the opening 13 minutes and Emre Guler bagged his first NRL try after half an hour.

Elliott Whitehead rounded off the try scoring for the Raiders - aiming to improve on their grand final defeat last time out  - after Anthony Don had pulled one back for Gold Coast.

Jack Wighton has agreed a lucrative new deal with the Canberra Raiders through to the end of the 2024 NRL season.

Considered one of the best playmakers in rugby league, Wighton's new contract is said to be one of the biggest in the team's history and could reportedly earn him as much as three million Australian dollars.

Wighton won the Clive Churchill Medal in the Raiders' Grand Final defeat to the Sydney Roosters last season and was already contracted throughout 2020 but Canberra opted to negotiate a new deal after he decided not to take up his player option for the following campaign.

After committing his future to the Raiders, Wighton said his desire is to end a wait for premiership glory that dates back to 1994.

"I want to win a competition with the Raiders," he said in quotes reported by the Raiders' official website. 

"I know we have the squad to do it and if we can stay together and continue what we've built we'll be able to achieve our goal.

"I love the club. They've always been there for me and I want to repay them by staying and playing the best footy I can to be successful."

The Raiders begin the 2020 season at home to the Gold Coast Titans on Friday March 13.

Aidan Sezer described the controversial 'six again' call in last year's NRL Grand Final as "history" as he backed Canberra Raiders to bounce back and be crowned premiers in 2020.

The Raiders went down 14-8 to Sydney Roosters in the 2019 showpiece, but the contest was overshadowed by a hugely controversial refereeing decision.

With the scores tied at 8-8, head referee Ben Cummins initially signalled for another set of six after Canberra had regained possession from a fifth-tackle kick. Although he swiftly reversed that call on the advice of assistant Gerard Sutton and touch judge Chris Butler, the Raiders ran the ball - seemingly unaware of the decision being changed - and went on to concede a match-clinching try from the set that followed the resulting turnover.

Former Raiders half-back Sezer, who has moved to the Super League with Huddersfield Giants for 2020, sees no value in continuing to dwell on the drama as both he and Canberra prepare for new campaigns.

At the Super League season launch, he told Omnisport: "I think I can probably speak for the majority of the [Raiders] squad [in saying] you've got to put it to bed. It's done now, it's history."

Reflecting on his final season in Canberra, he added: "It was a bit of an up-and-down experience, but it was a great year. We made a Grand Final.

"I guess falling at the final hurdle was disappointing but I'm good mates with a lot of the boys back home, I wish them all the best and hopefully they can go one better in 2020.

"And on a personal front, coming over here, hopefully I can get a bit of silverware over here as well."

Asked if he was confident in Canberra's ability to improve on their runners-up finish last term, Sezer replied: "I think so. They've got all the makings to be a good team again, but, you know, the NRL is such a tough comp.

"In 2016 we made a major semi, then it took us a couple of years to get back there. But in saying that, I think the boys will learn from that experience.

"They're all mature players now and there's great leadership at the club. They'll be hungry to go one better because that experience obviously [puts] lots of fire in your belly to get back there and be crowned premiers."

The New Zealand Warriors and Auckland Blues have jointly announced their respective rugby codes will host a NRL and Super Rugby doubleheader in March next year.

The back-to-back games at Eden Park are believed to be a world first with Auckland’s NRL and Super Rugby teams hosting their Canberra-based counterparts for an event known as the "codes of Auckland."

Rugby League’s Warriors will host NRL grand finalists Canberra Raiders at 5pm local time before Union’s Blues will take on the two-time Super Rugby champions ACT Brumbies at 7:35pm.

The New Zealand-based duo trialled a single-ticket promotion in 2019 for games hosted on the same weekend and months of discussions have allowed the codes to unite for a blockbuster event.

"We have much in common as professional teams in international competition and we know that we have fans that follow both clubs," Warriors CEO Cameron George and Blues chairman Don Mackinnon said in a joint statement.

"Both clubs have worked together in recent years when the opportunity has arisen, and we have been trying to make this idea work for a couple of years.

"With both clubs playing Canberra teams on the same weekend, it was the perfect chance to give it a go. It's exciting and innovative and gives the Warriors and the Blues the unique opportunity to celebrate some of the best sporting entertainment that Auckland has to offer."

The event will be held on March 21 in round eight of the Super Rugby competition and round two of the NRL season.

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