Rugby League Players Association director Joel Thompson has called for NRL stars to stop crying over "spilt milk" and accept their pay cuts for the greater good of the game.
While he understands where Joey Leilua is coming from after the Wests Tigers centre questioned perceived inequalities in the financial sacrifices between players and the league's powerbrokers, Thompson says his peers across the competition need to see the bigger picture.
"(If) we take a pay cut, we take a pay cut. That's the reality of it. As players, we're going to be moved on. There's going to be a new crop of players that are going to come in," Thompson told Fox League Life.
"We're going to be forgotten about and it's about keeping rugby league alive.
"It's a game that's given me everything. I watched it as a young kid. Those tough nights at home, I'd be home watching football.
"It would be everything for me. It was an escape for me and seeing people attack it when it's on its knees, I can't cop it sometimes."
Leilua vented his frustrations on Wednesday afternoon.
"All I'm reading is the NRL (officials) are getting a 25 per cent cut and all the players are getting a 72 per cent cut," he said.
"All they want is a fair share. Just get the same amount. A 50 per cent difference between the players and the NRL, that is a big difference ... we're the product, the players who go on the field every week and entertain the crowds.
"If they don't want to give us that, I don't think there will be players."
Barely an hour later, NRL chief Todd Greenberg announced he'd accept the same reduction as the players during the coronavirus suspension.
Not that Thompson necessarily agreed that Greenberg, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys or RLPA boss Clint Newton deserved such salary slashes.
"They're still working. When we're at home here, doing our little work-outs, we're not actually on the field," Thompson said.
"For us to get paid out, we need to be out there playing games and entertaining people. That's part of our job.
"They're probably doing 12, 14 hour days. Who knows what they're doing.
"Peter V'landys, I've got trust in him and the people in RLPA. We've got Clint in there and people who are working extremely hard, a lot of hours, a lot of time working out a solution to move forward and I'm behind it all.
"There's a lot of conversations. I don't think it's happened previously where there's been a lot of transparency.
"They've just been open to everything. They're going to show their books.
"They just want to make decisions that's going to be best for the players and also the game and we've got to understand that."
Australian Associated Press