Highest Paid NRL Coaches: Who Are They & Why Do They Deserve It?

The fight for the top job in NRL coaching is as competitive as it gets. NRL coaches are often well paid, but salary differences between NRL coaches from team to team can vary based on contract deals and what each coach can deliver. The 2020 season was hard on all teams due to the need for reduced spending but for a quality coach, it seems that the money is always there. So, who is the highest paid NRL coach in Australia right now?

Coaching up a storm

Melbourne Storm’s coach Craig Bellamy is often touted as one of the best NRL coaches of all time and is currently the highest paid coach in the league, with an estimated yearly salary of around $1.4 million. His salary was increased by the Storm’s owners in 2018 when the Brisbane Broncos were trying to get him onboard for the season. He has consistently brought Storm to the finals over the past 18 years and has overseen three premierships, with the latest being 2020. The 2021 season has Bellamy and his team off to a good start with 5 wins from 7 games so far and the Sportsbet stats on the Melbourne Storm are looking promising for the rest of the season.

The rocky road to success

Not all coaches were made equal, and Ivan Cleary got off to a rocky start in his coaching career with the New Zealand Warriors and the Wests Tigers not really seeing much success at all. His big break came with the offer of the head coaching job at the Penrith Panthers in 2014, and though he took them to the preliminary finals that year he was fired in 2015 after only narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon.  Though his time with the Panthers did not result in great successes, he did win the Dally M Coach of the year award within that shaky season.

Cleary was offered the ultimate in second chances when he returned as head coach of the Panthers in 2019. 2020 was the beginning of better days for Cleary and the Penrith Panthers with the team achieving a 17-game winning streak and concluding with a win in the minor league premiership. For the second time, Cleary was named Dally M Coach of the Year showing that hard work and patience can pay off for NRL coaches. Though he experienced a shaky start, Ivan Cleary is now reputed to earn a salary of $1 Million.

Benny’s up for grabs in 2022

Wayne Bennett is the current coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ranks high in the category of the highest paid NRL coaches, with an estimated yearly salary of $1.1 Million. Benny has had a long career in coaching, most notably with the Brisbane Broncos from 1998 to 2008, during which they won 6 premierships. He is currently head coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs but with his contract up, he will be leaving the team at the end of the 2021 season. Who will be the next to snap him up, we wonder?

Many of the NRL’s best coaches come to the field on the back of hugely successful careers as players themselves and who is the highest paid NRL coach in Australia can change from season to season, depending on salary caps and contracts which are largely based on previous successes. Though it seems that Craig Bellamy comes out on top at the current moment, the big money in the big coaching jobs is always up for grabs.