A Dally M boycott appears to have been averted, with the NRL reportedly agreeing to give players a seat on the competition rules committee and an extra week of annual leave.
According to Fairfax Media, the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) and the governing body made headway on a number of key issues on Wednesday during productive talks.
The RLPA had been pushing for an annual leave increase from six weeks to eight, in line with the AFL.
The parties, negotiating as part of a mid-stream review of the collective bargaining agreement, both conceded ground and agreed to seven weeks off per year.
In another breakthrough, the NRL agreed to a request to allow a current player – yet to be appointed – to join the competition review committee.
Coaches are already represented on the committee by premiership winners Wayne Bennett and Trent Robinson, while retired Brisbane great Darren Lockyer has been the players’ voice. Lockyer will soon be joined by one of the game’s elite to provide a new perspective on proposed rule changes.
There were fears next week’s Dally M awards could be called off for the first time since 2003 after the likely medal recipient, Johnathan Thurston, had threatened not to attend.
The North Queensland co-captain’s stance prompted the parties to pick up negotiations, which had stalled for more than six months, with Wednesday’s talks the most productive yet.
The NRL has also undertaken to limit the amount of five-day turnarounds and to ensure loads are shared evenly between the teams as much as possible.
“Wherever there is negotiation, there needs to be compromise,” RLPA boss Clint Newton said.
“We are working incredibly hard around player workloads and the NRL have acknowledged, after more consultation today, that there is a greater demand on the players.
“Hopefully, we can come up with a (solution) around what that actually means prior to the end of the season. The NRL agreed there needs to be more emphasis on player wellbeing and education,” Newton said.