Mason shows true colours

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Winging it
NRL opens books but few lookers

Steve Jancetic | May 10, 2007

It was flagged as a landmark day in the history of rugby league, but only 16 players bothered turning up as the NRL opened its books for inspection yesterday morning.

The forum bordered on farce when only a handful of players had arrived by the scheduled 10:30 am start, with officials forced to postpone the meeting by an hour.

Eventually they straggled in, including Willie Mason - whose threat to call a player strike over wage demands was the catalyst for the forum.

South Sydney quartet Dean Widders, Reece Simmonds, Jeremy Smith and David Peachey arrived two hours late and with only 10 minutes of the meeting remaining, but at least they showed: eight NRL clubs had no representative.

Mason denied the poor numbers indicated a lack of interest from players. "I think they'd love to be here but just [could not] with the scheduling with training," he said.

"We [Andrew Ryan and Mark O'Meley also attended from the Bulldogs] were very lucky that we were senior players at the club and we were able to negotiate with [coach Steve Folkes].

"I think the players that were able to get here got here."

But given all 16 NRL teams have 25-player squads - representing 400 players in total - there was no glossing over the fact it was a poor showing, especially as the media contingent outnumbered the players three to one.

What was actually achieved in terms of a settlement on the collective bargaining agreement was also unclear.

Rugby League Professionals Association boss Matthew Rodwell said he would take issues raised by the players at yesterday's meeting back to the clubs via their delegates.

NRL chief executive David Gallop has put an offer on the table which would see the salary cap raised to $4.1 million next season and $4.2 million in 2009 and 2010.

All clubs are operating under a $4 million salary cap this season, with Mason claiming the players were happy with their share of NRL revenue.

"David [Gallop] showed us that he's not sitting on a big bundle of gold," Mason said. "I came in here with an open mind, I didn't really know anything about the figures, about how much the game was actually making.

"We're getting a fair share. Everyone was pretty happy."

Rodwell revealed he would meet with Broncos and Australian Test captain Darren Lockyer in Sydney today and was also seeking to sit down with Newcastle and NSW captain Danny Buderus in the coming days.

Mason said he still held some reservations about the minimum wage being offered to players, Gallop claiming that was an issue for club chief executives to discuss.

Amongst other issues tabled were those of player burnout and scheduling, Gallop confirming moves were afoot to move next year's City-Country game to a Friday night.

The annual representative game was held on a Thursday night this year with five Cronulla players forced to play three matches in six days.

I know why he has reservations despite championing their poor position a month ago in an attempt to force the cap to be raised. The NRL will increase the cap by 100k next year and the same amount again in 2008. Rodwell revealed that Mason has concerns because any increase at the bottom means that there is less for the players at the top. And Willie doesn't like that! :blaugh:

Jatz Crackers

First Grader
theres nothing much to show that Mason has dishonourable intentions. But clearly it shows that the guy opened his mouth to the media in a (potentially) damaging way to the game, without knowing any of the pertinent facts. The guy believes his own press. Wanker.

Chip and Chase

True Supporter
Staff member
Premium Member
Tipping Member
Could imagine Mason looking over the NRL books, he may as well have been reading the phone book for all the sense it would have made to him. Hmmmmmm numbers.

I bet Gallop had to point out the "bottom line", well the one he wanted Mason to see after the accountants had worked their magic. It'd be like him going to NASA to check out the latest space shuttle flight plan.

Jatz Crackers

First Grader
Could imagine Mason looking over the NRL books, he may as well have been reading the phone book for all the sense it would have made to him. Hmmmmmm numbers.

They showed him the Hong Kong phone book :twisted:


Journey Man
I wonder why Manly was the only Sydney club not represented?

I think it is absurd that Mason has become the unofficial player's advocate. Would probably be the last person you'd choose.

I doubt he's literate given his well-publicised learning problems.


First Grader
The Roosters weren't Going to be but Chris Flannery was there for lunch and wondered what was happening

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