PORT ADELAIDE midfielder Tom Rockliff has urged patience and for people to reserve their judgement about pay cuts for players in the short-term, as discussions continue about an appropriate figure.
The AFL Players’ Association this week offered, on behalf of players, a 50% pay cut for at least the next two months after the AFL announced the 2020 Premiership Season would be postponed until the end of May because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The offer was rejected and players have since copped plenty of backlash as significant pay and staff cuts hit the entire AFL industry.
Speaking to Fox Footy, Rockliff urged people with opinions on an appropriate pay cut for players to let the situation play out, insisting players were not being greedy.
“I think we just need to calm and just wait for it to play out a little bit before we start judging and having opinions about players,” Rockliff explained.
“We spoke last week about players being selfish because we wanted to play and get as much of the season as we could.
“The players were having discussions around who is affected if we don’t play 22 games or if we stop playing.
“We actually figured there’d be a huge job loss rate but we got labelled as selfish because we just wanted to protect ourselves.
“But we understood there were going to be ramifications for not playing games for a lot of staff – staff who have been laid off this week that have ties to footy clubs for years.
“We understand the situation that we’re in and I don’t think there’s a quick fix, and I don’t think the constant commentary on it is going to help that situation.”
Asked what he thought would be an appropriate pay cut, Rockliff could not put a figure on it.
The experienced former Brisbane captain said he just wanted to make sure the competition was viable and could rebound quickly.
“Something that is fair and reasonable for all parties, something that gets us to a point where the game survives and we can rebound really quickly once we get back out there and start playing,” he said.
“What that figure is I’m not privy to the conversations. I’m not sitting in the meetings with the AFL, I’m not sitting with the AFL Players’ Association or on the board or anything like that so to sit here and give you a direct answer to that question is impossible for me to do.
“I think we just want a good outcome for everyone in this situation.
“We understand we’re lucky in the position we sit because we will potentially still have our jobs and livelihood when we get back to playing, which is hopefully not too far away, and there’s people who’ve got it far worse than us.”
Rockliff was part of the Port Adelaide side which beat Gold Coast in Round 1 by 47 points, finishing among the best players with 26 disposals and six clearances.
But with South Australia among the states announcing borders being closed and tough new quarantine measures from people returning while the club was flying back to Adelaide, Rockliff is among a group of Power players and staff confined to their homes in isolation for 14 days.
Heading into his fifth day, the 191-gamer said it was getting tougher to stay fit and occupy himself.
“It’s definitely hard work, there’s not a lot to do. The days are filled with reading or entertaining Jack, my son,” Rockliff said.
“We’re just trying to fill it as best as we can, do some obstacles courses and things but geez, she’s hard work.”