NRL players' labour deal believed to be close

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 20:53 31/01/2013

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Interim ARL Commission chief executive Shane Mattiske is confident the long-awaited Collective Bargaining Agreement with NRL players will be signed off within the next week.

An in-principal agreement was made with the Rugby League Player’s Association (RLPA) in December, but players from four clubs have yet to sign off on the deal, which will see the salary  cap rise from $4.4m to $5.8m for the 2013 season.

Mattiske ended his eventful seven-month stint in the hotseat on Friday having helped oversee the new billion dollar broadcast deal late last year in addition to a new multi-million dollar  sponsorship with Holden today.

He will now return to his role as director of strategy and special projects, having stepped in to fill the void left by David Gallop’s shock axing in June.

New CEO Dave Smith now takes over, and Mattiske said the salary cap issues will be resolved before the clubs’ AGM on February 20.

‘‘We are moving through it now, we have the in-principle agreement, and the RLPA are just working through it now. We’re waiting for them to get back to us,’’ Mattiske said.

‘‘I would expect to have some news in the coming days.’’

Clubs are privately frustrated by the length of time it has taken for the salary cap to be finalised, and are still waiting for the increase to their monthly grants.

But Mattiske said the commission cannot do any more to expedite the process.

‘‘The important thing is that we have the in-principle agreement and it’s also important that the players take their time and understand the deal,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a real positive that RLPA has taken their time. I think it’s a fair deal for the players and a fair deal for the game.’’

Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah has been an integral part of the negotiations alongside RLPA CEO David Garnsey, and the NSW hooker said the delay was simply down to timing.

‘‘With it being just before Christmas it was difficult for clubs to get their head around things as people were away and so on,’’  Farah said.

‘‘Since Christmas Dave and the RLPA have been going around and detailing the terms of the deal.

‘‘The last I heard there were three or four clubs yet to sign, but that should be done pretty soon and it’s all fine.’’

The agreement will also see the minimum wage for players rise to A$80,000 — up from A$50,000.

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Although it is below the initial target of a A$6.5 million salary cap, Farah said it was still a very good deal.

‘‘We worked hard to get where we are,’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of time and research went into the meetings and the deal  we wanted and I think it is a very good one.

‘‘As a players’ association we are getting stronger and as a playing group across the board we are all united on what we think is important.

‘‘It wasn’t just the money, there were other things we put forward and we’re very satisfied to achieve an outcome on those things.’’

- AAP

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