THE reality of the NRL's dire financial position has been laid bare with Knights coach Adam O'Brien seriously considering returning to work as a labourer in his home town of Batemans Bay to help pay the bills in the wake of the premiership shutdown.
Only a matter of days ago, O'Brien, a former Batemans Bay Tiger, was celebrating Newcastle's second straight win in a dream start to his debut season as a head coach in the NRL.
But all that has been turned on its head with the competition suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis.
It has resulted in the entire Knights staff being stood down without pay other than their entitlements until the premiership is back up and running again, a time-frame which could stretch to longer than six months.
O'Brien and his coaching staff, including assistants David Furner and Willie Peters, have not been spared the financial pain and find themselves out of work with next to no holiday pay to fall back on until the game gets back on it's feet.
"We are paid up until next Tuesday," O'Brien revealed.
"Philip [CEO Gardner] and the entire Wests board have been very supportive but given what is happening out there, there's only so much they can do.
"None of us have any holiday pay or leave entitlements so I may be back on the shovels I'd say.
"Whether I can do that here in Newcastle or have to go back to Batemans Bay, I don't know at this stage.
"I'm no different to anyone though.
"I have to earn a living to pay my rent to keep the house here so like everyone else hit hard by this thing, I have to find some work."
O'Brien said the priority is to remain in Newcastle and he'd be willing to roll up his sleeves and have a go at anything to make that happen.
But he admitted returning to his home town Batemans Bay was an option he may have to look at.
"I was a sales rep before I started footy coaching but I've done labouring and gyprocking and stuff like that in the past because all of my mates back home are tradies," he said.
"So I could do that but I'd be prepared to have a crack at anything to stay here in Newcastle.
"My first preference is to hang onto the house here so whatever I've got to do to make that happen, I'd obviously do."
O'Brien said he is just as concerned for his assistant coaches and the rest of the Knights staff.
"They are all in the same boat as me and ideally, we all want to stay here in Newcastle, firstly because it's home now and also because we want to be here to hit the ground running again with the players when we come out of this thing," he said.
"All the uncertainty is the hard thing. It would be nice to get a bit of a gauge on whether we are going to be back playing this year and whether it's going to be six months or how long it's going to be but I'm not sure anyone really knows."
The Knights will know today how much financial assistance is coming from the NRL while players are facing a savage cut that could halve their wages for the season.