NRL captain reveals why players are so upset over potential ‘CBA’

With the NRL slowly heading towards strike action in the backdrop of the failure for a Collective Bargaining Agreement to be made between players and bosses, one star has offered his insight into resolving a point of contention.

The players have made it clear that the issue isn’t money in terms of salary but more so the protection of players in the long-term through retirement hardship funds.

Clint Newton, former Hull KR captain, is the man representing the players as part of the RLPA in the negotiations to agree the CBA and another man who is present is Wade Graham, a senior Cronulla Sharks star.

Speaking to James Graham on his Bye Round podcast, the Cronulla star has outlined a way to bypass one of the points of contention which is player hardship funds and protection.

“In my opinion it could come from the salary cap,” Graham told the former England international.

“Did the salary cap really need to jump 12% or whatever it is, that’s an argument you can talk about, but the issue is that if the game (NRL bosses) have already agreed with the clubs what the salary cap will be, without the players, then it’s hard to do a deal.

“There’s effectively three stakeholders (players, clubs, NRL bosses) who have to work in this triangle. You agree with one stakeholder what the salary cap will be but then not the other, and then the other one misses out on other side as well. That’s not how you do a deal.”

The Cronulla captain, aged 32, has accepted that this CBA might not directly impact him given that he may be set to retire soon but he still was keen to express the foundations of what was wrong with the current state of negotiations, and what needs changing.

“Even basic things need sorting, you want to add more games in to the schedule then that needs to be agreed upon by the players. If you want to bring in two more teams and change the NRL to a conference system where it affects where you’re playing and what you’re doing, we think we’ve earned the right to be at the table agreeing to that sort of change.

“A lot of the ideas might be good ideas and players wouldn’t say no but they want to be there to have a say.

“We don’t want to run the game but when things directly affect the player, like scheduling or how long the season will be or leave entitlements then the RLPA should be in those meetings working out why they want to change it but the fact is we don’t have those.”

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