Games

NRL ‘power struggle’ hurting the game

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NRL coaches are trying to avoid getting caught up in the “power struggle” between the players and the league in a pay dispute that Broncos mentor Kevin Walters conceded had become a distraction.

Players in both the NRL and NRLW games on Thursday night covered the league logo on their jerseys with tape in protest at the failure of the league officials to progress negotiations with the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) over a fresh collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

It was an escalation from the player match-day media ban and Walters, who has two players, veterans Kurt Capewell and Adam Reynolds, as club delegates in the RLPA’s player advisory group, supported his troops

Walters said he didn’t think the players would go as far as a strike but wanted an end to the issue sooner rather than later.

“Like most rugby league people I’d like to see the two parties get together and see something sorted because it is a bit of a distraction for our boys,” Walters said.

“This is the best part of the year for rugby league over the next five weeks and into finals. We need rugby league as the centrepiece, not controversy off the field.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said it wasn’t up to him to take sides but called on the NRL as the game’s governing body to “lead the way” in getting the two parties back to the negotiating table.

“It is a really difficult thing and you can see benefits from both sides,” he said.

“You need to have that balance of someone looking after the players and you need to have a governing body that leads the way.

“We are in the middle of a power struggle and I don’t think it is up to clubs or coaches to get in the way.”

“So both (sides) need to understand that the game is why we are here and what we love it for – and the product – so just don’t affect that – however they get the result. Protect the game.

“We are in such a good spot because of both of those parties, but don‘t let it go too far.”

The NRLW players remain without a CBA and NRL players are operating under the previous agreement that lapsed last November.

They must sign off on a new deal by October, but the NRL has baulked at having an independent mediator help get talks going again.

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