NRL and RLPA begin three-day lockdown to resolve payment gap

As the NRL and the players’ union held three days of emergency talks over pay and conditions, some club bosses predicted a collective bargaining agreement would not be signed before the start of the season – and maybe never.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo and his counterpart Clint Newton met on Tuesday to settle their differences in the bitter and protracted dispute, the same day they berated each other in the media for delaying the process.

Both parties kept a low profile on Tuesday night but sources with knowledge of the situation, who spoke anonymously due to the confidential nature of the meeting, said the only focus so far has been on women’s football. NRLW players have been training without a contract because the salary cap for the women’s competition is unknown.

Abdo and Newton are said to meet again on Wednesday and Thursday, although several club bosses have been in contact with him herald believe that the impasse will not be resolved before round one.

The players’ union has not ruled out the possibility of strikes should the delays continue, but clubs expect the regular season – and the NRL’s new pre-season tournament – to go ahead as planned.

“The players will not do anything to harm the game,” said a senior club administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid his club being drawn into the dispute. “I can’t see this getting resolved before round one. But the players don’t want to hurt the fans. They will not sit out games.”

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo and RLPA Chief Clint Newton.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo and RLPA Chief Clint Newton.Credit:Getty, Getty

Another club boss, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “I will make a bold prediction – the CBA will never be signed. The last collective agreement was never signed, it was never agreed. People forget that. It didn’t matter, we went ahead with what was agreed, the money was paid and everything went on. There was an agreement and that was it.”

Abdo said in an interview with the herald on Monday that the NRL would not give in to all of the RLPA’s demands, stating, “We cannot bankrupt the game.” Newton, meanwhile, said the RLPA had not been allowed a single in-person meeting to negotiate individual claims. NRL and RLPA begin three-day lockdown to resolve payment gap

Ryan Sederquist

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