Rugby League Players Association general president Clint Newton will meet with NRL heavyweights John Grant and Todd Greenberg on Tuesday in a bid to settle speculation over a potential player boycott.
Tensions are running high among players following the release of the 2015 draw and the failure to finalise the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), with reports players may even consider missing matches at the beginning of the season.
“This has never been a hostage negotiation,” Newton told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning.
“It’s always been about what’s fair and reasonable and we believe that a lot of the things that we’re asking for are fair.
“This isn’t about us having a whinge, the RLPA has identified some huge workplace risks here and the pressure that has put on the players to recover.”
At the top of Newton’s list of concerns to discuss when he meets ARL Commission chairman Grant and NRL head of football Greenberg is the fact the number of five-day turnarounds remains the same as it was in 2015, despite promises by the NRL to eradicate such occurrences by 2017.
The Sydney Roosters, Manly and Wests Tigers are the worst hit, all three clubs dealt four five-day turnarounds in the first 20 rounds.
“The biggest issue I have is the fact that there were certain comments made around the fact that the NRL had done an incredibly huge amount in trying not to increase the player’s workloads with five-day turnarounds,” Newton said.
“I would have thought one of the fundamental things in trying to help the players and and the productivity of the game would have been to do nothing but decrease it.”
Newton said he didn’t expect the draw to be changed, but pointed to the introduction of the Auckland Nines, an extended World Club Challenge series and reduced interchanges for the 2016 season as reasons why the players were being overworked.
“We understand the draw has been done and I would shudder to think that another draw is going to come out,” he said.
“But at the same time we have to ask what the NRL is going to do to combat the increased player workload.
“I think in any part of negotiation there has to be compromise, and at the moment there has been no compromise from the other end of the table, and I hope there will be.”