During the off-season, there has been a heated battle between the NRL and the Players Association (RLPA) led by former Hull KR star Clint Newton who is the president of the association.
This comes as the two try to reach a decision in CBA negotiations.
As these stalled, there was threat that clubs could break away and form a rebel league sparking a very real civil war in the sport akin to the Super League war in the late 1990s.
It was believed that once a salary cap increase was decided upon, that these tensions would subside but the opposite happened as the NRL confirmed the increased salary cap without the say so of the RLPA.
Now the players are responding by boycotting NRL events such as photoshoots.
“This action is being driven by the players,” a senior player told The Daily Telegraph.
“The NRL doesn’t understand how unhealthy the relationship is with both the men and women.
“This is not about pay. It’s about the way the NRL have lacked respect in negotiations.”
The season launch is now under threat as well as the wider promotion of the season’s start.
An NRL spokesman on Monday said: “We are aware of some players not participating in today’s club photo sessions with NRL staff. We are in ongoing discussions with the RLPA regarding these and other issues and look forward to an exciting 2023 season for our fans.”
Now Kurt Capewell has not ruled out strike action as he says players will “make a stand.”
“(The NRL) have belief if they wait it out long enough we’re just going to have to sign (but) we’re not going to stand here and cop it,” Capewell said to the Australian after training on Tuesday.
“We’re ready to draw a line in the sand and we’ll make a stand.
“We don’t want it to come to a player strike but if the NRL are going to sit on their heels and not budge, who knows where it’s going to go?
“But I’m sure they’ll be able to see we’re not happy and how connected we are.
“It’s the NRL’s strategy to paint a picture of us (as greedy), wave a shiny toy in our face and hope we’re silly enough to run into that CBA.
“There’s still so many parts that are nowhere near (acceptable) and we’re prepared to fight for what we think is fair.
“The CBA controls a lot more than just our salaries; we want a fair revenue share, a genuine seat at the table, and want to be heard.
“It’s not about the wage, it’s about setting up funding for past players, welfare and tertiary education.”
In light of this, according to Fox League, players from the USA Championship could be drafted in to save the NRL if players did strike.
The organisation’s boss Tom Stevenson told News Corp of his plans to contact V’landys and assured that all 160 players would be willing to fly over immediately.
“I have spoken with our players today and we have 160 ready to go to Australia if the NRL players go on strike,” he said.
“Today, I reached out to the coaches to get confirmation before calling Peter V’landys and all our coaches said their players would drop everything and be on the next flight over to Australia.”