National Rugby League clubs "filtered out of Rugby League Central" on Thursday and "immediately turned up the pressure on the players' union" after agreeing to a salary cap of A$9.4M ($7.4M) for next season -- a figure they claimed was a "massive win for the game's stars," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. NRL CEO Todd Greenberg "once again proved himself the master of diplomacy and negotiation" as he united a group of club officials who arrived at Thursday's meeting "fractured over the cap for next season." Greenberg, along with COO Nick Weeks and lead negotiator Dean Kino, urged the clubs to deliver a "knockout deal" that the Rugby League Players Association would find "impossible to turn down." Ultimately, "everyone gave some ground so an agreement could be reached." The figure of A$9.4M was an increase of A$200,000 ($158,100) on the previously tabled amount, "enough to appease some clubs but not all." Canterbury will still be forced to shed players to get under the cap for next season, although Chair Ray Dib "painted a positive picture as he left the meeting." Dib said, "We are very happy with it actually, it's close to what we wanted" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/18). In Sydney, Michael Carayannis reported the "pre-planned fireworks fizzled" when club chairs and CEOs agreed to unanimously endorse Greenberg's offer. Greenberg "will hope he holds the same sway" with the RLPA, which "needs to tick off on a collective bargaining agreement" when the two parties meet on Friday. The key elements of the offer are:
- A A$9.1M ($7.2M) base salary cap plus A$100,000 ($79,000) car allowance.
- An optional figure of up to A$200,000 "to be spent on a veteran/development player." A veteran player is one who has played at a club for eight seasons or who has spent 10 or more seasons in the NRL. A developed player is one who has been contracted to his current club for two or more continuous years before his first NRL top-30 contract. The allowance is available "until a player turns 22."
- A planned A$400,000 ($316,300) integrity unit bonus "has been scrapped."
- Each club is allowed "three to six development players outside the top 30" at A$60,000 ($47,400) per player (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/17).
'HUGE WIN': In Brisbane, Paul Malone reported rugby league will have to devote up to an extra A$16M ($12.7M) to the NRL clubs over the next five years "as a result of concessions." Brisbane Broncos Chair Dennis Watt said, "The clubs are united with the NRL on the final CBA package and the salary cap for 2018 and beyond. ... The package is a huge win for players, with the biggest increase to pay and benefits in the game's history. The deal will now be taken to the RLPA for finalization of the CBA" (COURIER-MAIL, 8/17). In Sydney, Chris Barrett reported the deal would leave the average NRL player earning A$330,000 ($260,900). Like the Australian Football League's agreement with its players, there are "exclusions on certain non-broadcast revenue streams including digital costs, contra, government grants and leagues club funding." Parramatta Chair Max Donnelly said, "It's a good time to be a player." South Sydney CEO Blake Solly added, "I think it's the best deal the players are going to get. It is the best and final offer and it will be for the RLPA to decide what they want to do next if they don't accept it." Melbourne Storm Chair Bart Campbell: "It's an incredible pay offer for the players. They should be delighted" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/17).