RLPA change tune on Dally M boycott

RLPA chairman Clint Newton will meet with the NRL on Wednesday confident of signing off on a number of issues that will ensure the players do not boycott this year’s Dally Ms.

The Rugby League Players Association met with the governing body earlier this week to thrash out their grievances on a handful of topics in the current collective bargaining agreement.

Talks began on a revised CBA in March, however it wasn’t until North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston, favourite to win a record fourth Dally M medal this month, threatened to snub the gala awards last week that the negotiations gained traction.

Now the two parties are on the cusp of an agreement.

“Tomorrow is an important meeting with Dave,” Newton said at the RLPA awards night on Tuesday.

“Obviously on the back of Monday’s meeting, we’re optimistic about resolving the issues that we have in front of us.”

A number of the NRL’s elite have since backed Thurston’s aggressive stance, but Newton said the front office had recently been more willing to come to the table and listen to the players’ needs.

The newly retired Newcastle forward stressed that increased annual leave, five-day turnarounds and the players’ share in revenue were their most pressing issues.

Newton said he was positive an agreement could be reached before the Dally M awards later this month.

“Obviously I’m much more optimistic than what I was a week ago,” he said.

“The NRL need to be credited for the fact that they are listening.

“It obviously was a frustrating time for the players, that it’s taken this long.

“But the fact that things are going to be resolved is certainly positive signs for the game in general, not just the players.”

The union is also fighting for an increase from the current 20 per cent revenue share, down from the 24 per cent agreed upon during the last CBA agreement in 2013 – primarily for their retirement fund.

And while the NRL’s trumpeted free-to-air television deal means all stakeholders are now reaching out for a bigger slice of the pie, Newton denied the players were cutting into the clubs’ financial needs.

“The things that we’re asking for doesn’t impact on the clubs’ bottom line,” he said.

“Which is why we’ve always maintained that retirement money is one of the things that we want to make sure that goes with our share of revenue, we want that to help players transition.”

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