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NRL season launch in strife amid pay dispute

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys and National Rugby League Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo arrive a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The NRL’s season launch campaign is in doubt as the pay dispute between the league and players continues.

Players have decided to boycott media and promotional activities for the NRL in the lead-up to the season kicking off, which would include the season launch, as the failure to secure a new CBA continues to have consequences around the game.

The Rugby League Players’ Association has stated that players will not participate in promotional ad footage for season as they have in recent years, with 2022’s ‘Unreal’ campaign featuring father-son duo Ivan and Nathan Cleary.

Per reports from the Herald, the RLPA have requested a multi-day lock-in with NRL chief Andrew Abdo to try and reach a deal between the two parties, with little progress made so far.

The RLPA are reportedly set to put the NRLW on the front burner in discussions, with NRLW players currently training without contracts as an agreement on the salary cap is still yet to be reached.

Players are also after increased funds in the injury hardship fund due to the arrival of the Dolphins, and a new medical support fund, among other key issues.

A strike remains on the table for players if an agreement can’t be reached before the beginning of the season, with the NRL also seemingly refusing to backdown from their stance.

With a player-less season launch and ad campaign looming, the NRL may be forced into cancelling the event to avoid a PR disaster, though a source confirmed to the Herald that no decision had been made yet.

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