NRL, RLPA more aligned than ever on key CBA matters
Influential players' union director Wade Graham says the organisation and the NRL have never been more aligned on key issues, as the sport pushes towards peace before the season kicks off.
Meetings between the NRL and Rugby League Players Association continued on Monday, with the two parties still needing to sort out several points before a deal can be signed.
Included in those is the player transfer system, with the NRL keen to stop players signing with rival clubs for the following season before June 30 of that year.
That proposal would stop players signing with opposition teams more than a year in advance, as has been the case with Dom Young at the Sydney Roosters and Stephen Crichton at Canterbury in recent weeks.
While the NRL had initially pushed for a blanket ban on signing elsewhere for the next year until after each season's grand final, the league offered up a June 30 deadline in a proposal last month.
The RLPA are yet to agree to any change from the current set up, concerned about what impact a long-term injury would have on a player's ability to sign a contract for the following season.
Other matters still needing to be resolved relate to the league's low-income earners, as well as policies relating to the NRLW contracting system.
Otherwise, a deal appears to be all but done, before work begins on drafting a long-form collective bargaining agreement document.
The news marks a significant turnaround from a little over a month ago, when players began boycotting NRL promotions and the threat of a strike loomed.
But Graham said that in meetings he had attended in recent weeks, both sides had agreed to make key compromises.
"There's been movement from both sides. There's been a lot of working together, creating solutions from both parties," the Cronulla veteran told AAP.
"The game and the RLPA are more aligned together than ever, really, on certain things. And close together.
"The way it's worked out the last few weeks, we'll be closer together for this next five-year CBA cycle than ever before."
When the ink is finally dry on the $1.347 billion deal, the average men's player salary will sit at around $400,000 and the women's at $37,500 for this year.
The RLPA did not push back on the financial aspects of the NRL's offer, but wanted autonomy on their finances and the way the $90 million in injury and retired player funds is managed.
AAP has been told the RLPA has been granted some extra say as part of the negotiations.
There has also been movement in the organisation's push for agreement rights on integrity matters, a point on which both sides looked unlikely to budge as recently as last month.
"It's all positive now and it's just about working through some of the finer technical issues. Dotting the Is and crossing the Ts," Graham said.
"It is a contract so a lot of leg work does go into it but hopefully soon we'll work out these last few things and there can be an in-principle agreement."