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Your rugby morning headlines for Thursday, April 16.

FARRELL TAKES ALMOST £300,000 PAY DELAY

England captain Owen Farrell will see a whopping 90% of his salary go unpaid between now and the start of next season.

Saracens are the latest to reveal their drastic measures to combat the financial impact of the coronavirus, which includes no player being paid more than £75,000 between now and September.

For Farrell, that means a pay deferral of almost £300,000, with fellow England stars also going without hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The English champions are also taking advantage of the government furlough scheme to pay part of their players’ wages.

Deferred salaries will be repaid over an 18 month period beginning when next season kicks off.

Sarries lock Maro Itoje said: “In order to see this through, the whole organisation needs to pull together and do what we can for the future of Saracens and our individual career’s within the sport.”

PRO14 BOSS TARGETING SUMMER RETURN

Martin Anayi, the Guinness PRO14 chief executive, has revealed plans to restart the league this summer.

It looks like that games will be played behind closed doors, if only initially, to get the league finished in some shape or form before September.

Presently, with the UK and other countries still in a full lockdown, the resumption of play feels like being some distance off.

The league insist they will follow whatever health advice comes from the government but Anayi was targeting a July return to action.

“I am actually really confident now,” Anayi told The Irish Times.

“I think if you’d asked me that question a few weeks ago we just didn’t have as much as we have now.

“The most important thing is that it’s got to be safe. That’s number one. But all indicators are that we will get back to playing, presumably for a period of time behind closed doors, and in July/August.”

Some teams have nine regular season PRO14 matches to be completed, with a further three rounds of post-season matches to be played before a champion is crowned.

However, a truncated completion of the season has been mooted, which involves some matches being declared 0-0 draws in order to propel league towards a swift conclusion.

The league also faces more challenges than most, given it involves teams from five nations and the complications that will bring with travel restrictions currently in place.

The PRO14 have been advised to take a ‘phased return’ approach to travel.

ALL BLACKS STARS TAKE BRUTAL PAY CUTS

New Zealand rugby has moved to save $25 million in player salaries in order to survive the economic downturn that the coronavirus has sparked.

NZR has cut players’ remaining salary payments between now and the end of the season by up to 30%, with the top earners taking the biggest cuts.

This, aswell as a freeze on assembly payments, other financial benefits and incentives, and reductions in player-funded welfare, will save NZR 50% on their usual player spend.

Players on less than $50,000-a-year will have their income protected.

“The overall impact on revenue is significant. The absolute worst-case scenario, if we weren’t able to get on the field this year, there is potential risk of north of $100 million in revenue at stake,” NZR CEO Mark Robinson said.

“When we’ve looked at scenarios around that we’ve realised we have to act very quickly in terms of getting costs under control. Preserving cash is absolutely critical.”

BIGGAR RELISHES QUALITY PREMIERSHIP COMPETITION

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar has revealed his admiration for Owen Farrell and Danny Cipriani and discussed his mindset when it comes to facing quality opposite numbers.

Speaking to BT Sport, the 83-cap pivot explained he still has a kind of underdog mentality that sees him compare himself to his peers, whilst relishing the prospect of facing some of the biggest names in the sport.

“For me, going up against Owen Farrell, [Danny] Cipriani and people like that week in, week out is just a real bar-setter,” he told the TV station.

“If your not quite on the money, you get found out because if you’re not on it, chances are your opposite number is.

“Every week is a challenge. You look at Sale, who have signed Rob Du Preez, who has made a huge impact up there.

“It seems to be that every team has got a very strong outside-half and that’s what I enjoy. I enjoy the challenge of going up against big names and big reputations.

“This might sound strange but I still see myself as having to put myself up against those guys, or I’ve got to compare myself to those guys, I’ve got to aspire to be like those guys.

“I don’t see myself as a 30-year-old guy who has been around the block a little bit, I still see myself as an aspiring 20-year-old who is aspiring to get better week in, week out.

“Playing against that type of player in front of packed houses, in a league that is as competitive as anything in the world, is brilliant for me.”

This content was originally published here.