Sea Eagles‘ leader, Daly Cherry-Evans, has acknowledged and praised the determination of his NRL contemporaries for maintaining their stance during the drawn-out negotiations over the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which finally came to fruition last week.
Approximately nine months since the expiration of the previous deal, the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Rugby Leagues Players’ Association (RLPA) were able to reach a tentative agreement for a new CBA by late Thursday afternoon.
The implications are that the formal draft of the new CBA is merely a few days away from being presented for approval by both the participating parties.
Decisions regarding the financial aspect of the agreement, extending to 2027, were settled on last year itself, culminating in a total sum of $1.35 billion earmarked for the players during the five year span between 2023 and 2027.
Nonetheless, a stalemate had arisen over varied other employment conditions, involving issues relating to access and control of player data, the duration of the season and the allocation of resources towards the RLPA‘s initiatives.
However, all unresolved matters were put to rest during a string of discussions held between the two opposing parties over the course of last Wednesday and Thursday.
Player-led industrial campaigns, the most notable of which included boycotts of the media during game-days, were called off by Thursday in advance of the Sea Eagles‘ game against the Panthers at the Brookvale Oval, in anticipation of the imminent enforcement of the new CBA.
Daly Cherry-Evans, who is not only the captain of Manly but also the general president of the RLPA, lauded his fellow players post-match for their unyielding stance over the near two year period of negotiations. “The process has indeed been arduous. I do not recall any CBA negotiations spanning a period of twenty months,” he stated.
“Every individual who was involved, specifically from the RLPA and the players’ side, deserves recognition. The players have demonstrated extreme unity. I’m filled with immense pride for our team of players because there have been ample opportunities for us to capitulate, yet we stayed steadfast in our beliefs and what we were battling for. I truly believe we can now finally close this chapter and revert back to our discussions about the game,” he added.
Cherry-Evans commended the role of RLPA chief executive officer and former NRL player, Clint Newton, in mediating and helping to reach a resolution. “Clint Newton has been the recipient of a lot of criticism throughout this process. He’s been incredibly committed towards the player group and he deserves recognition for his efforts. We’re extremely proud of Clint, he’s done a stellar job,” the Manly captain continued.
Penrith co-captain and RLPA delegate Isaah Yeo presumed that the players would be relieved once the gruelling negotiation process was behind them. “The players are really thrilled about it,” Yeo commented. “Our objective was to fight for improved rights. That was the primary issue, it was not about the money and it was indeed about securing enhanced rights for the players. From what it seems like, we have managed to check off everything on our list,” he elaborated.