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Pay war will take time to end: NRL

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/06/2017 Matt Encarnacion and Scott Bailey

The pay war between the NRL, the players' union and clubs shows no signs of abating, despite the stakeholders completing two days of high-powered negotiations late on Tuesday.

It was the first time all three parties came together since the Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) responded last month to the governing body's initial offer on next year's salary cap.

They released a joint statement describing this week's talks as "constructive". Negotiations included NRL stars James Maloney, James Graham and Chad Townsend.

Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle was among representatives from clubland.

"The RLPA welcomed the information and remains committed to ensuring players receive a fair outcome out of the negotiations," RLPA chief executive Ian Prendergast said.

NRL chief operating officer Nick Weeks said while the two-day meeting was crucial in taking steps forward, he admitted a collective bargaining agreement was far from being decided on.

"All parties are treating the negotiations seriously and respectfully and we look forward to making further progress in the weeks ahead," he said.

The RLPA will pass on the developments from the meetings to its board, including members George Burgess and Cameron Smith, on Wednesday at a scheduled meeting.

RLPA board member Jeremy Latimore on Monday joined RLPA general president and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith in refusing to rule out a possible strike.

Latimore said it was something that was yet to be raised as a player group, and he was aware it would be an ugly look for the game.

"It hasn't been spoken about as yet. It wouldn't be a great look. I hope it doesn't get to that. And I don't think it will as long as the NRL are on board," he said.

The key issue in the negotiations revolves around the players' push for a revenue-sharing model, in which they want to include a base salary cap of $9.1 million next season before long-serving player and car allowances are added.

The NRL is understood to prefer a fixed model, with a gradual increase of player payments by 45 per cent over the life of the next broadcast deal, between 2018 and 2022.

Latimore insisted the players were more united in their cause than ever.

"It's the first time in the history of the RLPA where everyone is on board and behind the RLPA. Everyone is together and on board. In the past, there hasn't been that," he said.

"Now we just need the NRL to come to the party and help get it done because it's frustrating for the fans - it's frustrating for all the players."

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