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NRL players won't shy away from pay row

NZN 29/05/2017 Laine Clark

Cameron Smith has called for calm amid an escalating pay dispute but the Test skipper has warned the NRL that the players "aren't going to run away this time".

Smith has not ruled out strike action after being angered by the NRL's "inflammatory" response to pay demands from the Rugby League Players Association.

He was fuming over recent leaked NRL emails to all clubs that claimed the RLPA collective bargaining agreement proposal was unaffordable and showed "an apparent disregard for the game".

Smith - who is the RLPA general president - called for cool heads ahead of their next round of talks on June 5.

"I would just like our administration to work with the players and the players association," he said.

"I am not going to comment on who should be running the game.

"But I want them to sit down and have a reasonable conversation with the RLPA.

"Because it's not like we have thrown a proposal together and wanted to get as much money as we can."

However, Smith said the players' union would be digging their heels in over their proposal.

"We have done so in the past but the players and the RLPA aren't going to run away this time," Smith said.

"The RLPA and player group is not going to disappear with our tail between our legs.

"We are a patient group and believe we have put forward a balanced proposal to the NRL and believe both parties can benefit from it but also fans, clubs and members - we want to grow the game.

"We want to work with them not against them. It's not a cash grab for the players at all."

Smith did not believe the RLPA's proposal was unreasonable.

"Not at all given the substantial increase in money that has come into the game," he said.

"I think that is mostly due to the guys that are producing on the field.

"The product the broadcasters play for are what the players produce."

Smith added: "I read an article by Phil Gould that said over the last decade the players and clubs were put last when it came to the NRL's idea around where to spend money.

"I think the players and the clubs do feel that way."

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