NRL 1st Semi Final - Raiders v Tigers
NRL 1st Semi Final - Raiders v Tigers

Total lockdown: NRL players facing ultimate sacrifice

After finally signing off on their pay deal with the NRL, now players will have to consider potentially living months in isolation away from families.

But Rugby League Players Association chief executive Clint Newton says the players are willing to "explore all options" if it means getting football back on the field.

Newton conceded the next step could be for the players to consider what it would mean if they are forced to enter into a lockdown situation.

 

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They could be left with no option given it would most definitely mean narrowing the risk of any player potentially contracting the coronavirus if and when the comp restarts.

Player power will hold the key to any hopes the NRL have of getting a return in the coming months so it is vital that the subject is on their radar now.

 

It was only a couple of weeks back that the thought of not having their partners at home led the Warriors' WAGS to demand from their club's chief executive that the players return home - when they were stuck away on the NSW north coast and New Zealand was about to shut its borders.

But having the competition suspended has opened everyone's eyes to the potential financial disaster that the game is now facing if the football doesn't return this year.

 

The New Zealand Warriors were forced away from their families after the first round. Picture: Supplied
The New Zealand Warriors were forced away from their families after the first round. Picture: Supplied

It's been speculated players could be forced to be away from their families for several months if the comp was to return in June, because it would also mean they would be back training behind closed doors at the start of May.

Newton conceded the priority was to keep the players "safe".

"At the moment we are willing to explore all options for players provided first and foremost the players are going to be appropriately protected and kept safe _ and do what we can to make sure they are not put at any adverse risks," Newton said.

"If that means that possibly we find ourselves in a situation where they may be playing in various locations the players have obviously demonstrated in the first few weeks that they are prepared to explore all options.

"It is just again about how are they going to be impacted, how are they going to be protected and is this at any greater risk than what they have currently been going through?

"And then how is the family and the player going to be properly supported through that process if that was to be the case?"

 

CEO of the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) Clint Newton. Picture: AAP
CEO of the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) Clint Newton. Picture: AAP

Newton said at this point "we haven't developed any of those protocols or policies".

"What we have implemented at the moment is some really strong guidelines for the players and their families to operate within and use to help guide them through the next few weeks," he added.

"If we were to change that and ask them to move out of their normal living environment and to be taken away, well again, that is something we would need to consider.

"Players have been absolutely assured that we will be engaged upfront in those conversations."

Newton has been a part of the Wayne Pearce led Project Apollo team and he last night congratulated the NRL and the players for working through their differences to get the pay deal done.

Wayne Pearce (R) has been at the forefront of the innovations committee trying to save the season.
Wayne Pearce (R) has been at the forefront of the innovations committee trying to save the season.

The key features of the agreement include:

• A total of $24.6 million in player payments secured, which includes $5.4 million from the liquidation of the Injury Hardship Fund

• Players will receive a minimum of 29.5% of any additional net revenues over the revised forecast received by the NRL (based on the current format under the CBA)

• The rules of the Retirement Account have been amended to allow players suffering financial hardship early access - with those wishing to do so guaranteed their full amount

• The NRL will also resource the Wellbeing and Education program at each Club to ensure players have access to the relevant support

• The RLPA will have agreement rights and involvement in any revisions to the salary cap and player benefits beyond this period

• The RLPA will be included in key discussions - including with broadcasters and regarding the future competition structure and scheduling

• The RLPA will conduct a special purpose audit to continue with the transparency of the game's current and future financial status

• Existing playing contracts will otherwise remain protected.

Originally published as Total lockdown: NRL players facing ultimate sacrifice


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