In response to the ongoing impasse regarding the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), players from the Gold Coast Titans and Brisbane Broncos have adopted a defiant stance by hiding the NRL‘s official insignia. The NRLW confrontation in Brisbane, a memorable bout between the Broncos and the Titans on Thursday evening, saw willing participants from both teams mask the NRLW emblem present on their jerseys.
This bold move aligns with the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) raising the stakes in their negotiations centred around discussions that have lagged for multiple months. NRL and NRLW athletes will partake in these acts of defiance. As of late, an agreement is yet to be established for the NRLW, while NRL players continue operation under an expired agreement from November, with the new one needing ratification by October.
The RLPA recently boycotted media duties during game days after failing to progress with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The fell consequence of unsuccessful talks in Melbourne now paves the path for additional protests by the players, provided the NRL remains unresponsive to negotiations with the RLPA. Predictedly, the NRL may have to tackle stiff resistance given their allegedly intractable posture in negotiations.
Circumstances dictate the call for an impartial mediator to mitigate the discord, following NRL‘s dismissal of over a hundred previously proposed revisions by the RLPA. The unison-covered NRL insignias on jerseys convey a profound insight into the players’ attempt to shun their association with the league, much in line with the discussions preceding the first tournament.
Expect male and female athletes to perpetuate their resistance in the upcoming ‘Women in League’ matches. Twin fixtures at the Gabba ushered in the round on Thursday night, equal parts NRLW and NRL with the Titans and Broncos headlining the battle of the sexes, and the men squaring off against the Sydney Roosters.
The NRL chose to stay mum regarding the RLPA‘s latest scheme which seemingly carries the potential for a war of words. Jason Demetriou, head coach, South Sydney, has affirmed that while the club supports the protest, it cannot overshadow the immediate challenge of taking on Wests Tigers on Friday. “We’re pretty mature about it as a playing group,” stated Demetriou. “The club will have conversations in and around it just to make sure when we get to the game they won’t be thinking about it.”
In a clip-hanger of a match, reserve hooker Lauren Brown from the Gold Coast produced a sterling performance in the 77th minute by shooting a match-winning golden point field goal, leading her team to a thrilling 17-16 victory. Specifically summoned off the bench by coach Karyn Murphy to snatch victory, Brown coolly took a 25-meter shot following an exquisite pass from Brittany Breayley-Nati.
The youngest halves pairing ever fielded in NRLW history was presented by Gold Coast, with the supremely confident 18-year-old duo of Sienna Lofipo and Chantay Kira-Ratu, who acquitted themselves admirably to maintain the team’s undefeated status after two rounds. “They are confident kids. I had every bit of confidence in those two to do the job and they have got a massive future,” echoed Murphy.
Opening the game with a blitz, the Broncos witnessed a heart-stealing pass from centre Shenae Ciesiolka to winger Lauren Dam for the first score. Veteran half Ali Brigginshaw leveraged a chip, caught in full flight by a soaring Ciesiolka, to set fullback Hayley Maddick on track to widen the score to 10-nil. Concurrently, try scores from Titans‘ winger Emily Bass and fullback Evania Pelite levelled the score at half time.
Despite a promising 40m dash by Broncos‘ Gayle Broughton to the tryline in the 42nd minute – followed by Titans‘ prop and reigning club player of the year, Shannon Mato’s clever assist to Jessika Elliston to score under the posts against her previous team – the match hung in balance at 16-all till Brown’s golden point turned the tide.
While expressing disdain at Broncos‘ lack of discipline contributing to their consecutive losses, coach Scott Prince remains hopeful about a potential turnaround due to the team’s commendable effort. “I am very confident. The effort is there and that’s great,” commented Prince, as the game ended with statistics and scores.