NRL, players' wage pay deal talks extended

Rugby League Players' Association boss Clint Newton says talks with the NRL have been constructive.
Rugby League Players' Association boss Clint Newton says talks with the NRL have been constructive.

Pay negotiations between the NRL and its players will linger into next week after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on Friday.

Already presented with a model for an 87 per cent drop in coming months due to the coronavirus suspension, the players' union spoke with the NRL and clubs again on Friday.

But while all parties had been hoping to reach a deal by the end of this week and talks were productive, it became clear that would not be possible.

"We've had constructive dialogue with both Peter V'landys and Todd Greenberg again today," Rugby League Players' Association CEO Clint Newton said on Friday.

"We will continue to work through the process with players, agents, clubs and the NRL.

"The consultation with the playing group remains paramount to any agreement that would be reached.

"We are committed to providing the relevant stakeholders with clarity in a timely manner and are confident of reaching an agreement early next week.

"We're confident that our ability to demonstrate what's achievable during the game's greatest time of adversity will safeguard our immediate future while also protecting the longevity of our code."

Next week now shapes as a big one for the league.

The next round of broadcast money would usually be due on April 1 for the following quarter, but it now appears unlikely those funds will drop.

A meeting of all 16 club bosses is also now scheduled for Monday morning, after it was postponed from Friday.

It came as the Queensland Rugby League, NSWRL and NRL cancelled their reserve grade and interstate carnivals for the year.

The decision means for the first time in the game's 112-year history, a second-tier premier will not be announced.

It also means hundreds of second-tier male and female players won't return to the field this year and must begin preparing for 2021.

Meanwhile, players at the top are well aware they must take a heavy cut after being paid in full for the first five months of the NRL year from November.

But after an RLPA board meeting on Thursday night, they are still eager to understand further details of the NRL's own costings and the position of the clubs.

The NRL has already placed the majority of its staff on leave, while chief executive Todd Greenberg said publicly this week he too could be forced to take a cut.

The 87 per cent drop is considered a worst-case scenario measure, based on the NRL's finances if the top-tier competition is also cancelled for 2020.

There is a chance some additional funds could be injected into the game through representative football at year's end, given it would require less of a time frame than a 15-round competition plus finals.

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has pushed for the tour of Great Britain to still go ahead if possible, while other former players still want money-spinner State of Origin to feature in any calendar.

Current players will also continue to be consulted over the weekend, before more meetings are set down for early next week.

The option of a tiered cut still remains popular, which would mean those on higher dollars sacrifice a greater percentage of their salary than those on minimum wage.

Regardless, an agreement is needed as soon as possible as it will paint a clearer picture for struggling clubs on where their finances stand for 2020.

Australian Associated Press