NRL players want the salary cap for next season to be more than the $5 million ceiling agreed to by clubs and the ARL Commission and are also seeking a five-year collective bargaining agreement.
Representatives of the Rugby League Players' Association met with NRL officials on Tuesday and have scheduled further talks for Friday and next Tuesday and Wednesday in a bid to finalise a deal.
The players' union chief executive David Garnsey refused to divulge details of what the players were seeking but a club official said they wanted the salary cap to be much higher than $5 million and possibly as high as $6.2 million.
However, NRL clubs have been advised to work on the basis that the salary cap will be $5 million next season and some are trying to shift players to ensure they comply.
''I can't go into any detail but I can say that the salary cap is one of the things that are currently under negotiation,'' Garnsey said.
The commission last week announced that the annual grant to clubs for next season would be $7 million, with $5.85 million to cover the cost of player wages - including those in the Toyota Cup and NSW Cup competitions.
The remaining $1.15 million is to help pay for changes required at clubs under the new strategic plan outlined by the commission.
It was also announced that the grant for the following four seasons would be determined before June 30 next year, but Garnsey said the players' union was hopeful of securing a five-year agreement. ''The term of the deal is under negotiation and there has certainly been no decision made that it will be a one-year deal,'' Garnsey said.
''Our intention, and we have made this clear, is to align the [bargaining agreement] with the new media-rights agreement.
''The grant is a separate negotiation as far as we are concerned, so we are not influenced by that - either the number or the term.''
The parties have met several times in recent weeks and some of the game's biggest stars joined Garnsey and players' union consultant Brendan Schwab.
''We have had a number of players attend the meetings,'' Garnsey said. ''We had Steve Turner, Robbie Farah and Ben Creagh at the first meeting, and Robbie came to a couple after that. We have taken Paul Gallen to a couple of meetings, we have had Tim Mannah at the last couple and there has been David Shillington, Ben Hannant, Petero Civoniceva and Anthony Quinn at various meetings.''
Mannah and Quinn are expected to attend the next meeting on Friday.
A sub-committee of NRL chief executives is also involved in the negotiations and will meet on Thursday before the next round of talks with the players' union.
However, they have not been present at all the meetings.
NRL interim chief executive Shane Mattiske is in charge of negotiations for the commission and he is being assisted by several legal and financial advisers.
''We keep working to try and reach a deal but I don't think it is appropriate to characterise how the negotiations are going,'' Garnsey said.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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