NRL players around the game are cancelling media and promotional appearances en-masse as the game’s pay dispute takes an explosive turn.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting players from both the Sharks and Dragons cancelled media opportunities at the last minute in recent days, leaving journalists, photographers and the NRL’s entire media unit in the lurch.
The "newspaper" is reporting similar activity will continue around the game in coming days with players making it clear they have no interest in promoting the 2023 NRL season, set to get underway in just six weeks.
The action was reportedly sparked by the latest round of failed negotiations between players and the NRL on Friday.
The two parties remain at loggerheads over an acceptable collective bargaining agreement, despite the NRL announcing a record salary cap for 2023 of $12.1m, up 25 per cent from the year before.
That announcement infuriated the RLPA, who argued it came without the buy-in of the clubs and the playing group.
“To announce the salary caps for players without their agreement and bypassing their association is unprecedented,” RLPA chair Deidre Anderson said.
“For a governing body to set its own salary cap disrespects the entire player representation movement and the importance of collective bargaining.
“Today’s announcement goes against negotiating in good faith and only damages the trust between players and the governing body.”
In response ARLC Chairman Peter V’Landys accused the players’ union of “scaremongering”.
In a statement to The Daily Telegraph in the wake of the media boycotts, a senior player said the action is a direct response to the NRL’s lack of respect towards its playing group.
“This action is being driven by the players,” the player told The Daily Telegraph.
“The NRL doesn’t understand how unhealthy the relationship is with both the men and women.
“This is not about pay. It’s about the way the NRL have lacked respect in negotiations.”
In response, an NRL spokesperson told the paper the game is aware of the action being taken by the players as they continue their ongoing discussions.