Harry Grant's bold swipe at NRL amid bitter player dispute

Harry Grant grimaces while on the field for the Melbourne Storm.
Harry Grant has been unimpressed with the NRL's negotiating for a new CBA, believing fringe players will be left worse off. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Melbourne Storm star Harry Grant has suggested NRL players would be better off 'on the tools' as negotiations over a new pay deal with the league become increasingly standoffish.

Details over list sizes and the 2023 salary cap are yet to be locked in for next season after the NRL started the new contractual year on November 1 without having come to an agreement with players.

ROUGH: Joseph Suaalii under fire for 'dangerous' act at Rugby League World Cup

'SPINE-TINGLING': Samoa and Tonga square off in stirring scenes

The Rugby League Players' Association has been in negotiations with the NRL for more than 12 month, lead by chief Clint Newtown.

In addition to the aforementioned uncertainty about the 2023 season, players have also been left in the dark over minimum wage and revenue-sharing aspects of the agreement.

Grant argued that the NRL was yet to come to the table with a deal commensurate with the players' contribution to the game.

The Storm hooker said the NRL had been 'low-balling' players in their negotiations.

"I've got strong thoughts (and) for us as players it's our livelihood," he said.

"We just need to get something sorted for everyone's sake. We've put enough into this game, for what we get out of it they are low-balling us at the moment the NRL. The RLPA do a great job and have negotiated pretty fairly."

While the impasse won't jeopardise the incomes of the Kangaroos players, those lower down the pecking order on smaller contracts are beginning to feel the pinch.

Grant was one of those players not so long ago with his rise to Test and State of Origin level resulting in him being rewarded with a rich contract at Melbourne through to the end of 2025 earlier this year.

"Everyone thinks you're playing NRL and you're on good coin, but the reality is that you're not," he said.

"You have a lot of expenses along the way (especially) if you have to move away from home to chase your dream.

"I think a development contract is $60,000. Some blokes would be better off going to work on the tools."

Peter V'landys adamant funding can be resolved

Peter V'landys insists a funding deal with NRL clubs can be reached, but concedes peace with players will not come under the current list of union demands.

The NRL was rocked by headlines and threats of a breakaway league from clubs on Monday, with pay deals with their two key stakeholders now a week overdue.

But V'landys is adamant those threats are merely "argy-bargy" in negotiations.

Funding remains at the heart of the dispute, with the NRL keen to hold back some money for investment it claims can safeguard the sport in the event another crisis after COVID-19.

Peter V'landys has dismissed difficult CBA negotiations with NRL players as simply 'argy-bargy', despite some frustration from clubs. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Peter V'landys has dismissed difficult CBA negotiations with NRL players as simply 'argy-bargy', despite some frustration from clubs. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Several clubs are known to be frustrated over the drawn-out nature of talks, with no salary cap or funding figure meaning they cannot plan budgets.

"That (delay) is because we have taken a tougher line on a full-distribution model," ARL Commission chairman V'landys told AAP.

"What became apparent during COVID-19 is distributing all your money out is not good when you have a crisis.

"I am confident this will resolve itself. With the clubs, I don't know that we are that far apart."

Crucial to any resolution will likely be greater grants for the women's game.

AAP revealed last week that all 10 clubs with women's teams had written to the NRL to say the proposed $1.2 million in funding for those clubs next year would still leave them $500,000 out of pocket by participating in the NRLW.

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.