The $20 million elite club to define NRL finals

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The NRL premiership is likely to be determined by the biggest stars on the biggest dollars. We run the rule over the cream of the eight remaining teams, revealing the highest paid players in the 2021 finals series.

By George Vlotis|8:08pm Sep 09, 2021

No. 26 - Jared Waerea-Hargreaves ($700k)

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No. 26 - Jared Waerea-Hargreaves ($700k)

Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is paid $700,000-a-seaon and he's worth every penny.

In recent years, the veteran forward has become the spiritual leader for the Tricolours and he has been the club's leading front-rower in three premiership campaigns.

His presence on the park this finals series will be vital for Trent Robinson's side. For the Roosters to go deep he will have to be one of their strongest performers as he so often is in the big games.

No. 25 - Jahrome Hughes ($700k)

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No. 25 - Jahrome Hughes ($700k)

No. 24 - Tyson Frizell ($700k)

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No. 24 - Tyson Frizell ($700k)

For so long Tyson Frizell was a name synonymous with the Red V, but his move to Newcastle on a $700,000-a-season deal has already paid off.

The one-man army will return to finals football this year after helping the Knights to a seventh-place finish on the ladder.

Coach Adam O'Brien will be hoping Frizell can help his squad go one better this post-season over last year's first-round exit.

No. 23 - Damien Cook ($700k)

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No. 23 - Damien Cook ($700k)

Where would the Rabbitohs be without hooker Damien Cook?

The speedster's bursts out of dummy-half provides the Bunnies with just another option in their attacking game and more than justifies his $700,000-a-season price tag.

Cook featured again for the Blues this year in the No.9 jersey, frequently linking up with fullback James Tedesco in their forays down the middle of the park.

No. 22 - Tom Burgess ($700k)

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No. 22 - Tom Burgess ($700k)

Tom Burgess, twin of George and brother of Souths icon Sam, has been carving his own path in recent years away from the glamour of his family name.

Under Wayne Bennett his game has gone to new heights, becoming one of the cornerstones of the Rabbitohs' forward pack - earning him a $700,000 salary.

No. 21 - Jai Arrow ($700k)

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No. 21 - Jai Arrow ($700k)

No. 20 - Joey Manu ($720k)

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No. 20 - Joey Manu ($720k)

No. 19 - Angus Crichton ($720k)

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No. 19 - Angus Crichton ($720k)

Angus Crichton has carved himself into a superstar second-rower under Trent Robinson's Roosters system.

The former schoolboy rugby phenom first made waves when South Sydney brought him into the NRL in a breakout season in 2017.

But he was soon poached by their cross-town rivals on a deal worth $720,000-a-season.

He will be one of the big names the depleted Tricolours will be looking toward for morale this finals series.

No. 18 - Latrell Mitchell ($750k)

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No. 18 - Latrell Mitchell ($750k)

For the second year running, Latrell Mitchell will not feature in the NRL finals.

While it was injury that kept him from starring in the post-season in 2020, this time it's a thumping hit on former Roosters teammate Joey Manu that has seen him sidelined for six weeks.

It's a shame for both Sydney-based powerhouses who will be without two of their strongest attacking options.

Since his $750,000-a-season move to Souths, Mitchell has proved his game-breaking ability time again and will be sorely missed by Wayne Bennett on his late premiership push.

No. 17 - Dane Gagai ($750k)

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No. 17 - Dane Gagai ($750k)

Put Rabbitohs centre Dane Gagai in an inch of space and he's bound find the line.

It's that special try-scoring ability alongside a physicality in his game that allows him to command a $750,000 pay cheque from the Bunnies.

With Latrell Mitchell out of the picture for finals, Gagai and fellow winger Alex Johnston will have to be at their best to compensate for their fullback's absence.

No. 16 - Reagan Campbell-Gillard ($750k)

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No. 16 - Reagan Campbell-Gillard ($750k)

Forward Reagan Campbell-Gillard has shined since his move from the Panthers to the Eels on a $750,000-a-seaon deal.

While injury kept him from the back half of the year, his return just ahead of the finals series will be a huge boost for coach Brad Arthur as the Eels look to shake their finals stigma this post-season.

No. 15 - Clint Gutherson ($780k)

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No. 15 - Clint Gutherson ($780k)

'The King' Clint Gutherson raised eyebrows two years ago when he was locked in a contract stand-off pushing for a higher wage from the Eels.

But the fullback and skipper has proved he's more than worth every cent of his $780,000 to Parramatta, inspiring his team from the back week-in week-out.

His leadership alongside star halfback Mitch Moses has been the cornerstone of Parramatta's season, and one that will need to be in full swing come finals.

 No. 14 - David Klemmer ($800k)

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No. 14 - David Klemmer ($800k)

No. 13 - Luke Keary ($850k)

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No. 13 - Luke Keary ($850k)

No. 12 - Jake Trbojevic ($900k)

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No. 12 - Jake Trbojevic ($900k)

Older brother of Tommy Turbo, Jake Trbojevic is the beating heart of the Manly Sea Eagles.

Aside from his unparalleled work ethic and commitment to every effort play, Trbojevic is the Silvertails' spiritual leader who is fully deserving of his $900,000 salary.

Pundits are tipping the Sea Eagles as a late smoky this post-season and if they're going to challenge for the title they'll need both Trbojevic brothers on song.

No. 11 - Mitchell Pearce ($900k)

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No. 11 - Mitchell Pearce ($900k)

No. 10 - Mitchell Moses ($920k)

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No. 10 - Mitchell Moses ($920k)

No. 9 - Nathan Cleary ($940k)

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No. 9 - Nathan Cleary ($940k)

No. 8 - Ash Taylor ($964k)

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No. 8 - Ash Taylor ($964k)

No. 7 - Adam Reynolds ($1m)

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No. 7 - Adam Reynolds ($1m)

No. 6 - Kalyn Ponga ($1m)

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No. 6 - Kalyn Ponga ($1m)

The Knights locked down NRL prodigy Kalyn Ponga with a $1 million-a-season deal.

And why wouldn't they?

The gun 23-year-old has already proven himself a generational talent in just a few years in the game, and one the Knights will be desperate to keep in the Hunter for some time.

His flare in the No.1 will be a weapon that rivals will look to smother when they come up against Adam O'Brien's troops this post-season.

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