NRL 2023: ARLC table fresh, record-breaking CBA deal to RLPA to end strike threats

Top-secret documents have revealed the ARL Commission has presented a beefed-up record pay deal that quashes any threat of an NRL players’ strike.

News Corp can reveal the ARL Commission has presented the Code’s elite stars with a beefed-up deal as NRL chief Andrew Abdo and RLPA chiefs met on Wednesday for talks to finalize the CBA war on the eve of the Premiership’s 2023 inauguration to end.

Abdo and RLPA bosses will spend the next 48 hours in high-level talks at League Central to deliver the NRL’s new collective bargaining agreement after six months of lengthy negotiations.

News Corp believes peace is on the horizon following the multimillion-dollar NRLW deal, which gave the NRL and RLPA a stepping stone to rugby league’s first $1 billion pay deal.

Top secret documents obtained by News Corp show the NRL has upped the ante financially to prevent NRL stars from striking ahead of the Eels Storm season opener on Thursday March 2.

It can be revealed:

* The NRL’s final offering reached $1.347 billion, a 37 percent increase in total player payments over the previous deal of $980 million;

* The average NRL player’s proposed salary will increase by almost $63,000 this season – from $338,976 in 2022 to $401,823 this season;

* NRL minimum salary will rise 63 percent to $120,000 this season and reach $140,000 in 2027;

* The NRL has pledged $115 million to the player benefits pool, including retirement and injury hardship funds; And

* Of that $115 million, an additional $32 million was set aside by the NRL to receive feedback from the RLPA and player delegates on the distribution of the additional funds.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo, contacted by News Corp on Wednesday, declined to comment and said negotiations with the RLPA are at a delicate stage.

RLPA chief Clint Newton has been lauded for his leadership, with the parties, mostly at odds since last August, hoping to formalize the $1.347 billion package in the next two weeks.

A number of NRL players have recently raised the prospect of strike action unless their concerns are heard by the NRL, but one of the code’s oldest stars, Broncos skipper Adam Reynolds, says the Premiership game refusal is one last way out.

“All players are in the same boat. We would hate if it came to this situation[to go on strike],” Reynolds said.

“We have to fight and stand up for what is right as players. Some players can only play 50 games. Some have careers that go way beyond that, but we fight over the little details in the game, injuries and retirement plans and things like that.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the money, but that’s not just what the players are after.

“As a playgroup, we’re trying to cater to the next wave of gamers and the generations that will come through well and truly after I leave.

“If we don’t get it done now, it will be a big challenge for the next group to sort it out and so on.

“It’s disappointing that it’s ripped through the media and taken longer than expected to sort it out, but as players we have to fight for what’s right and make sure we’re on the same page and committed to it move toward a goal.

“The public seems to think it’s all about the money, but it’s not.

“We hope that the CBA will be sorted soon, hopefully before the season starts.”

Newton recently told News Corp he’s not playing hard in negotiations with the NRL.

“We want players to go into rugby league because we can say (the NRL has) the best pay, the best support, the best services, the best health and education programs and the best opportunity not just to get good players be, but good people,” he said.

“And then when they retire, they have the best protection.

“If we all moved in the same direction, we could be an absolutely formidable force in Australian sport.”

Sydney Roosters and Australia captain James Tedesco said on Wednesday he was confident the issue could be resolved.

“We’re waiting,” Tedesco said.

“We have full confidence in the RPA and Clint Newton to get the job done. For us, it’s about focusing on playing and starting the year.

“Hopefully we can get this all sorted out soon.”

When asked if he could rule out protests this weekend, Tedesco said: “Right now it’s all hypothetical. For us at the club, we just want to play.”

Originally released as NRL 2023: ARLC table fresh, record CBA deal to RLPA to end strike threats NRL 2023: ARLC table fresh, record-breaking CBA deal to RLPA to end strike threats

Ryan Sederquist

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