Ministry of Sport

NRL Players Revolt Over New Pay Deal Threatens May 28 Restart

After the NRL confirmed its plans to restart the competition on May 28, with all 16 clubs returning to training on May 4, a number of senior players have refused to begin training.

Fairfax’s Neil Breen reported the players refused the May 4 training date because they were yet to receive information on a new pay deal, among a number of other issues, such as the NRL’s biosecurity measures.

Since this report, the NRL has moved to reach a new agreement with players over a new pay deal, after the boycott threat put a potential stop to the May 28 restart date.

“Senior players on a call with the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) last night agreed unanimously to not return to training on Monday,” Breen told Nine News on Wednesday morning.

“The players were promised by the NRL that by [Wednesday], they would receive many things, including all the biosecurity details, all the new rules they had to live by, also a new pay deal,” he said.

The player backlash was reportedly led by Warriors players and backed by a number of other senior NRL stars including Cameron Smith.

Following this report, the RLPA released a statement confirming their commitment to the May 28 return date, pending clarity on a number of key issues.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the NRL and our members today regarding a range of employment matters that require clarification,” RLPA chief executive officer, Clint Newton, said.

“We have requested further information and clear direction from the NRL, and we are committed to continuing to work through this process in good faith,” he said in the statement.

The NRL confirmed their season restart date of May 28 on Tuesday, announcing the 2020 NRL season will be a 20-round competition, with the grand final to take place on October 25.

This announcement came after Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman, Peter V’landys was in negotiations with broadcast partners Channel Nine and Foxtel over the revised season’s length.

“This is a great outcome for our players, fans, partners and stakeholders, and I’m extremely appreciative for the cooperation and support from Hugh Marks and Patrick Delany,” V’landys said, discussing his negotiations with the league’s broadcast partners.

“Both have always acted in good spirit and have demonstrated how partners work together.

“It’s safer now to play than it was in round two when we were playing.

“The daily infection rate in NSW was 25.79 percent when the last game was played.

“It has been now less than 1 percent in NSW for the last 18 days and is continuing to drop.

“There has also been a significant improvement in the recovery rate, being 75 percent in NSW and 83 percent in Australia.

“Our players will be safer under our protocols than they would be as regular members of the community,” he said.

Joshua Hodson

Joshua Hodson