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Gordon Tallis slams 'pretentious' NRL players over pay dispute

The rugby league great has criticised players over a pay dispute that is becoming increasingly bitter.

Gordon Tallis has hit out at NRL players over their increasingly bitter pay dispute with league bosses. Pic: Getty
Gordon Tallis has hit out at NRL players over their increasingly bitter pay dispute with league bosses. Pic: Getty

Rugby League great Gordon Tallis has weighed in on the increasingly bitter pay dispute between players and the NRL, amid recent uproar that behind-closed-doors negotiations had been secretly recorded. League officials found themselves in hot water this week after being sprung recording a private meeting with around 60 players, who met with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.

The NRL boss met with the players at a leadership conference convened by the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in a bid to get the stalled negotiations moving again. The meeting was held on the proviso that no details of it were to be recorded. During that meeting, however, Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam reportedly spotted an NRL executive accompanying attempting to record conversations on her phone, while accompanying Abdo.

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It's understood the senior executive potentially faces the sack for the recording, which left the players incensed. When asked on his Footy Talk Rugby League podcast whether the players were right to be filthy about the secret recording, Tallis perhaps surprisingly, said he didn't see what the big deal was.

“Don’t jump in the car, don’t walk any streets of Sydney – I think we’re getting recorded everywhere,” Tallis said. “Listen, you would only be worried getting recorded if you’re saying something wrong.

“I get recorded for six hours every week – it doesn’t bother me. I couldn’t give a rats. If you’re going into negotiating and someone records it, it’s a negotiation! Who cares?”

Tallis then turned his anger on the NRL players and accused them of using social media to air their dirty laundry. The Maroons great also argued that if players were so concerned about the distribution of money across the pay pyramid - then those stars earning the most at the top should be willing to sacrifice money to go towards players on the lowest wages.

Seen here, Broncos legend Gordon Tallis performing commentary duties at an NRL game.
Broncos legend Gordon Tallis has taken a swipe at players over the ugly pay dispute overshadowing the lead-up to the new season. Pic: Getty

"No no, you give back 200 hundred grand to the guy who comes in here and pushes the buttons if you’re that worried," Tallis added. “It’s happened at some clubs, where we’ve all taken a pay cut and it does happen.

“If you really like a guy, you go, take 20 (thousand) off mine. Right? We’ve done that if you’re that worried. You’ve gone and negotiated their price. They’ve all got the money that they want. They are well paid.

“Stop playing it out in the paper! Get your business done behind closed doors.”

Pay dispute overshadows build-up to NRL season

The pay dispute has left the upcoming season launch in jeopardy, with the NRL Pre-Season Challenge set to be disrupted with industrial action by players unless the governing body adheres to certain requirements by Thursday. RLPA continues to fight for better conditions post-retirement, chiefly seeking medical retirement and transition funds for the health and education of players once they hang up their boots.

AAP has been told NRL and NRLW players resolved at a 'Leaders in League' conference held by the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in Sydney last week to cover NRL logos, delay kick-offs and implement external media bans at NRL Pre-Season Challenge games as part of "increased activations" to get their differences resolved.

The two-round NRL Pre-Season Challenge kicks off on Thursday night in Auckland with the clash between the Warriors and Wests Tigers. The players want the NRL and RLPA to come to an agreement in certain key areas this week including financial and non-financial matters, but it mostly relates to the women's competition, the NRLW.

The RLPA has made the NRL aware that agreement on "the NRLW salary cap, policies inside the CBA and RLPA autonomy" need to be achieved. The recent conference involved getting feedback from players and workshopping strategies between themselves, so they could reach a collective agreement and then put pressure on the NRL to agree to it.

Of chief concern, as revealed by Melbourne Storm's RLPA delegate Christian Welch this week, was female players "have no clarity on their CBA or their financial model".

"It's unacceptable," Welch said. "They can't sign contracts, they're not training, they're really in limbo to be honest."

Parramatta forward Shaun Lane, an RLPA delegate for the Eels, also indicated this week that strike action may be the only solution to the current dispute.

"I think everyone's hopeful of a resolution soon but, whether it's realistic or not, I'm not too sure," Lane told AAP on Tuesday. "It's dragged on for way too long. It should have been handled six months ago and obviously it's heading to a time where some action may need to be taken in order to finally resolve the conflict and get what we need to get out of this bargain.

"A strike is probably the last thing that everyone wants to occur and obviously understanding the best interests for all the stakeholders in the game - players, clubs, the NRL, fans, sponsors - the last thing that anyone wants to happen is to strike and for footy to be cancelled. So we've tried to do everything that we can to signify that we don't want to do that and that we want to resolve these negotiations before it gets to that point.

"But unfortunately you've seen historically sometimes these things need to occur. I guess if it does get to that point then we will be willing to do whatever's necessary."

with AAP

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