NRL Players Balk At $7.1M Salary Cap Offer, Indigenous Legends Want Greater Role
National Rugby League players and clubs "are set to pressure the Australian Rugby League Commission to release cash from a proposed A$200M ($208.6M) future fund to help meet salary cap increases after a three-hour meeting, involving some of the game's biggest stars, failed to reach agreement on the collective bargaining agreement," according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Fairfax Media "understands the issue was raised" by Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah during Friday's meeting, after the NRL negotiating team headed by interim CEO Shane Mattiske "outlined annual increases that would see the cap rise to just A$6.8M in '17." While a A$6.8M salary cap in '17, which includes a A$400,000 marquee player allowance, represents a rise of almost 50% on this year's A$4.6M cap, "the players point out the clubs have had their annual grant increased by a similar percentage next season." Farah "refused to rule out industrial action" after the players' association delegation was offered a salary cap for next season of A$5.1M, with a A$400,000 marquee player allowance. He said, "That hasn't been spoken about but, in saying that, we need to look at all our options if something is not agreed upon" (SMH, 12/1).
SEEKING ANSWERS: In Sydney, Phil Rothfield noted the NRL is also "embroiled in a dispute with former indigenous legends over their standing in the game." Former Tigers stars Larry Corowa and Percy Knight "have revealed relationships between the game's power brokers and indigenous figures have become toxic." Recent letters Corowa sent to Mattiske and Knight sent to ARLC Chair John Grant include complaints that the ARL Indigenous Council "has become an irrelevant part of the game, rarely consulted on issues, even involving the All Stars game." The former players also want the NRL "to separate indigenous affairs from the multi-cultural One Community charity arm" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/4).