Warriors players are hesitant to fly to Australia without more clarity. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Warriors players are hesitant to fly to Australia without more clarity. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Players offered pay deal ahead of showdown with NRL

PLAYERS have been offered a 20 per cent reduction in their overall salary as they make moves to speak with NRL heavyweights Peter V'landys and Andrew Abdo on Thursday afternoon.

The afternoon meetings will dictate if training resumes on Monday.

Players were initially told they were going to receive 30 per cent of the remaining money owed from June, which would have resulted in them receiving 70 per cent of their contracts for this season.

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Under the revised offer, they will receive just more than 50 per cent of the money they are owed from June - or 80 per cent overall for 2020.

Earlier, the NRL's planned return on Monday was on shaky ground after players said they wouldn't front up to training until a pay deal was reached.

A phone hook-up of players on Wednesday night agreed the Warriors should not travel to Australia until all players have a greater understanding of the game's financial position.

Boyd Cordner, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Cameron Smith.
Boyd Cordner, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Cameron Smith.

During the phone hook-up senior NRL players, led by Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith, backed the position of the Warriors to not commit to travelling to Australia until their was financial clarity from the NRL.

Players agreed that none would report back to their clubs when training was expected to resume next week. On Monday they were to be told of the game's new biosecurity policies before getting back onto the field for the first time since the competition was postponed.

The players were in another phone hook-up on Thursday afternoon.

"The Warriors players aren't going to jump on a plane on Sunday and say goodbye to their families for the next five months without any detail other than you're playing on May 28," a source close to the RLPA negotiations said.

Warriors players are hesitant to fly to Australia without more clarity. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Warriors players are hesitant to fly to Australia without more clarity. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

"It's a leap of faith on their behalf. There needs to be some clarity about what the next five months looks like for the players, financially. But we can't get anything from the NRL until a broadcast deal is done.

"I'd say we're Buckley's chance of training next week."

Several players on the phone hook-up were concerned about how any potential return would be perceived by the wider Australian sports public, especially in the midst of a health pandemic.

The players' stance has infuriated club bosses who are in the midst of undergoing a massive cull of their football operations.

Some coaches have been stood down without pay since the competition was ceased while a host of front office staff have had their wages slashed.

Players have been paid in full up until this point but want a clearer understanding of the game's financial plight. However, the game is still negotiating with its broadcast partners.

Rugby League Players Association chief executive Clint Newton. Picture: AAP
Rugby League Players Association chief executive Clint Newton. Picture: AAP

RLPA boss Clint Newton said there is a hit-list of items the players need sorted before they return.

These include;

Final biosecurity and medical protocol;

Insurances and health protections in place for players, club staff and officials who are subject to the protocols;

Clear guidance on any health and safety regimes that will apply to the players, club staff and officials who are subject to the protocols;

A plan for the wellbeing and welfare support for players and their families;

Medical and injury management support for players;

Transparency of the NRL revenues based on the revised 2020 NRL competition structure and the distribution of player payments; and

Detail on government approval for interstate and internationally based teams in relation to their travel, training and playing environment.

 

"We are in ongoing discussions with the NRL and our members today regarding a range of employment matters that require clarification," 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."

From the outset, Warriors CEO Cameron George has always maintained his franchise would not be leaving New Zealand until they had clarity around proposed pay deals.

Now however, it seems players from other NRL clubs are also willing to wait it out too.

As the news of the potential boycott broke on Thursday morning, RLPA president Clint Newtown was already in talks with player representatives from across the 16 NRL clubs.

Warriors officials could also not confirm what, if any, movement players like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck were leading.

Warriors CEO Cameron George. Picture: Dave Rowland/Getty Images
Warriors CEO Cameron George. Picture: Dave Rowland/Getty Images

All 16 NRL coaches have already agreed to delay a return to training until the Warriors had arrived to quarantine in their Tamworth base.

Initially, that was thought to be this Sunday.

So confident were the Warriors of heading to Australia this Sunday, a charter plane has already been hired to carry 50 players and staff across the ditch.

As a result, those in Tamworth responsible for setting up the Warriors quarantine 'fortress' have not only spent this week constructing an NRL gym in an events centre adjacent to the team hotel, but also installed basketball hoops, table tennis tables, even video game consoles.

Preparations were already being made for the Warriors' arrival in Tamworth, where they were to initially be based and allowed to train while in quarantine.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government was satisfied that rugby league's travelling franchise would be able to remain effectively quarantined while training in a "fortress" facility that includes the $2 million Scully Park complex.

From there, the New Zealanders are due to shift to a new camp somewhere on the Central Coast, and only a short bus ride to Newcastle, where they were to play their games.


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