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Salary sacrifice: James set to take hefty cut for career restart at Raiders

Ryan James is poised to sign off on a pay cut of around $400,000 in a bid to get his career back on track with Canberra.

NRL.com understands James's new two-year Raiders deal has been finalised and is just awaiting his signature following all-important medical clearance on the two knee reconstructions that have sidelined him the last two years.   

No official announcement has been made by Canberra or the Gold Coast on James's future.

But the off-contract Titans skipper is set to link with the Raiders from next season on a significantly reduced contract from his current Gold Coast deal.

NRL.com understands James will drop down to a bit more than half of his current salary – believed to be more than $600,000 for this season – when he shifts to the nation's capital.

Back-to-back ACL ruptures in James's right knee, following a 2011 reconstruction on his left, ensured Canberra did their due diligence before signing the 29-year-old forward.

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At his best James is an Origin-calibre front-rower and was a shadow member of NSW's 2018 squad before injury ruined his last two seasons.

Long regarded as one of the NRL's genuine good guys, Raiders recruitment boss Peter Mulholland says the club was left with little doubt about the Indigenous All Star's motivations and ability to rediscover top form.

"That's up to him, and obviously he's confident he'll be able to do that," Mulholland told NRL.com.

"He's taking a very big pay cut to come to us and get himself back to his best. The ball's in his court that way, and we'll give him every opportunity to do it here.

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"Knowing the person that he is, there won't be a problem there.

"The type of person he is, he's exactly who Ricky wants at this club, we're confident this will work for both parties."

James will leave the Titans as the club's longest-serving player and renowned local junior, having played 144 games since making his debut in 2010.

Due to COVID-19 precautions all negotiations with the Raiders have been done over the phone, while James's medical assessment was also conducted on the Gold Coast.

His latest ACL recovery is expected to have James fully fit for Canberra's 2021 pre-season, regardless of what date it falls on.

"He's been in the bubble up there so our medical people have been talking to their medical people, the procedures are the same and we're happy with the reports coming through," Mulholland said.

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"It's still to be finalised but with the coronavirus that's the only delay and it's very hard to do anything in person. But there's nowhere to hide with doctors these days.

"In any case, it's the person. There's this terrible thing these days where people don't trust people.

"But there is a leap of faith from both us and Ryan here. There's trust that Ryan can get back to his best performances, and there's the trust from him that we can get him there."