Just hours after striking the pay deal, Newton said his members were open to the proposals if appropriate safety measures are taken.
“At the moment, we’re willing to explore all options for the players provided, first and foremost, they are going to be appropriately protected and kept safe and we do what we can to ensure they are not put in any adverse risks,” Newton said.
“If that means possibly we find ourselves in a situation where we are playing in various locations, the players have demonstrated in the first few weeks they are prepared to explore all options.
“It’s about how they will be impacted, how they will be protected and is this any greater risk than what they are going through. Then it’s how the player and their family are going to be properly supported through the process if that were to be the case.”
The new pay deal will see players earn two months of wages and payments while the season is suspended. If the competition is unable to resume, players will surrender five out of 12 months’ salary.
Key features of the agreement include:
- A total of $24.6 million in player payments, which includes $5.4 million from the liquidation of the Injury Hardship Fund;
- Players will receive a minimum of 29.5% of any additional net revenues over the revised forecast received by the NRL (based on the current format under the CBA);
- The rules of the Retirement Account have been amended to allow players suffering financial hardship early access – with those wishing to do so guaranteed their full amount;
- The NRL will also resource the wellbeing and education program at each club to ensure players have access to the relevant support;
- The RLPA will have agreement rights and involvement in any revisions to the salary cap and player benefits beyond this period;
- The RLPA will be included in key discussions – including with broadcasters and regarding the future competition structure and scheduling;
- The RLPA will conduct a special purpose audit to continue with the transparency of the game’s current and future financial status;
- Existing playing contracts will otherwise remain protected
“This is a difficult time for our game and the wider community and the challenges we face are immense, and unprecedented,” Greenberg said.
“The players understand the severity of the circumstances we face and have demonstrated their willingness to work with us to secure the best possible outcome to protect the long-term future of our game.
“I know it hasn’t been easy and I thank the RLPA and the playing group for their maturity, professionalism and diligence in helping us reach this solution.”
Newton added: “The entire community has been impacted by these extraordinary and unexpected circumstances. Our great game and our people are feeling those effects.
“The coronavirus pandemic has placed the game and its people under huge pressure and players have assumed the responsibility, like many others, to ensure the future of our clubs and the NRL is protected.
“Players will share in this pain while games are suspended and have done what was required to ensure the game’s short- and longer-term future. However, we want to be clear that this arrangement is based on the worst-case scenario, should we not get back on the field in 2020.
“Based on the current financial position of the game, the information we have been provided and the guarantees we have secured, we believe that this is a fair deal and we have secured the best outcomes for our members, while ensuring they are protected and included upfront in decision making long-term.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.