NRL pay dispute. Clint Newton wants to meet Peter V’Landis and Andrew Abdo

The ugly pay war engulfing the NRL can only be resolved in one way, according to players’ union boss Clint Newton, as players refuse to rule out strike action.

Clint Newton has called for league chiefs Peter V’landis and Andrew Abdo to be locked out to end the NRL’s messy player pay war.

The NRL faces a player revolt just five weeks before the 2023 premiership kicks off. disgruntled stars refusing to rule out strike action.

Players and the NRL have failed to reach consensus on a new collective bargaining agreement despite months of negotiations.

The players have launched a boycott of NRL promotional activities and have not ruled out strike action despite pledging to play in next month’s All Stars exhibition games in New Zealand.

The sides have been at odds over a number of issues, including revenue share, salary cap structure, funding plans and the women’s game.

Negotiations were moving at a snail’s pace and Newton, the chief executive of the Rugby League Players Association, said the only way to resolve the conflict was for the parties to lock themselves in a room until an agreement was reached.

“Absolutely,” Newton said when asked if he wanted to meet ARLC chairman V’landis and NRL chief executive Abdo.

“That’s the only way we can progress by having consistent matches over a long period of time. That way you’ll hit any kind of impasse or impasse.

“It’s something we’re 100 percent committed to doing.

“I’m optimistic about reaching a settlement, I just can’t say when. It requires both parties to agree and then you have a connection with the clubs as well.

“I think we will get there. Andrew and I reconnected last week, which was nice.

“The players are passionate about this, as they should be, and hopefully we can get a result at some point.”

The RLPA is pushing the NRL for further funding for injury, retirement and hardship programs to help players no longer playing.

The NRL says it has pledged $200 million over five years to the programs but is unwilling to give up full control of the funds to the players’ union.

The RLPA disputes this figure, saying the NRL’s commitment to the programs is more than $15 million.

Players argue they should be able to use the money as they wish and have a well-governed board to regulate spending.

Whether they can reach a decision on program funding remains to be seen.

Despite strike threats, the NRL on Wednesday announced the squads for the Indigenous v Maori All Stars games in Rotorua on February 11.

Several big stars of the game such as Joseph Manu, James Fisher-Harris, Joseph Teipin and Jared Waeria-Hargreaves have been named for the Maori team.

The Indigenous All Stars include Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Nicho Hynes and Selwyn Cobbo, along with some players from the reserve ranks.

Some women’s players have made themselves unavailable for selection due to insurance and contract issues, but Newton said that’s a personal preference and the RLPA has not mandated all-star players.

Broncos forward Jordan Rickey has been selected for the Maori team and said he hoped the game would continue.

“I’m excited to be back in the game for the first time,” he said.

“I hope it continues. I would like to represent my culture. That’s always a big deal to me.

“At the end of the day, if it doesn’t, I will fully understand and support the players.

“The OEK and its representatives have our backs. It’s really good for them to be playing us now, as well as footy.”


Matt Encarnacion

Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis believes the NRL’s ongoing dispute with the players’ union is reaching a point of no return and has put this year’s NRLW season in jeopardy.

Tensions remain between the league and the Rugby League Players’ Association as discussions continue over collective bargaining agreements with their men’s and women’s players.

The Tigers are one of two expansion teams set to make their NRLW debut this year, but they have struggled to sign players due to a lack of clarity around their wages and terms.

“We are reaching a critical stage, there is no doubt. These negotiations have been going on for quite some time,” Hagipantelis said on SEN radio on Tuesday.

“It’s reaching the point of no return. If this continues with this level of uncertainty, it could put the NRLW in jeopardy in 2023. I know it’s a big call.

“But the lack of information coming to us at this point in terms of player signings, schedules, etc. makes it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for us to continue with that plan.”

Last December, the NRL announced wage increases of 25 per cent and 152 per cent in both the men’s ($12.1m) and women’s competitions ($884k) respectively.

However, the RLPA has made it clear that they are arguing for more than just money, with post-career health insurance high on the priority list.

“They have to be looked after under the Sports Injury Insurance Act 1978, which is woefully inadequate,” says Hagipantelis, who is also a director of Brydens Lawyers.

“The current CB provides medical insurance to these players for up to 12 months after the end of their employment contracts.

“But in NSW, generally a worker, depending on the nature of the injury, may have medical cover for the rest of their life.

“It’s a huge difference, so I understand the impetus for concern.”

Originally published as Clint Newton wants a showdown with NRL bosses Peter V’landis and Andrew Abdo to end the pay war.

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