NRL pre-season that’s set to feature St Helens at serious risk of boycott

The will they or won’t they question regarding if the NRL players could actually strike has been dominating the news of the past two weeks but with the pre-season challenge just two weeks away there’s a genuine risk of it not going ahead, per Australian media.

In the potential strike saga over the lack of a Collective Bargaining Agreement it’s been suggested by some Australian media outlets, on the basis of player comments, that the pre-season challenge could be boycotted.

St Helens could therefore find themselves at risk with the reigning Super League champions slated to head down under following Friday’s testimonial game for Mark Percival.

In Australia they’ll face Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge but Red Vee are also scheduled to take part in the NRL’s ‘Pre-season Challenge’.

Effectively Saints will join the 17 NRL clubs in a two-game tournament with points awarded based on wins, tries, offloads and line-breaks with the most points after each side’s two games claiming a prize of $100,000.

Whilst it’s certainly an interesting format and one that will make pre-season games more engaging given the prize money it’s another competition that’s at risk due to the potential strikes in the upcoming NRL season.

Players are wanting action to be taken in order to get the CBA agreed with the main points of contention being the lack of support for players beyond their playing career.

The decision prior to Christmas to suddenly announce the increased salary cap to try and gloss over the cracks of what has become a messy situation was one that’s broken trust, and now leaves players in a position of wanting to fight back.

Wide World of Sports in Australia are reporting that the pre-season challenge is in jeopardy, far more than any actual league games.

A player told WWOS: “They won’t listen to us and have driven us to this point. They ambushed us by announcing the salary cap without even informing or consulting us.

“Now they are trying to paint us out as greedy and money-hungry. Most of our claims are for helping retired players, the women in the game and grassroots footy.

“We keep hitting brick walls and need to show them that we mean business.”

The story, as reported by leading journalist the Mole, goes as far as to say that players view the pre-season challenge as the prime time to take action.

“The players won’t go as far as striking during the regular season – but see boycotting the two rounds of meaningless trials as an ideal way of hurting the NRL.”