Queensland State of Origin coach Billy Slater has expressed his lack of reaction to the Rugby League Players Association’s (RLPA) media blackout, which began on the first official day. The media blackout comes after a 20-month-long pay dispute between the RLPA and the NRL and Australian Rugby League Commission. The negotiations for a new agreement have seemingly reached an impasse. RLPA CEO Clint Newton criticised the NRL for not agreeing to a “fair deal,” particularly concerning the distribution of finances, such as injury hardship funds. In response, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo defended the proposed deal, stating that it was a landmark move. With the players now refraining from game day media responsibilities, the coaches will take on the task of keeping fans engaged. Slater stated that the issue would not be a distraction for the team, emphasizing the professionalism of the players. He mentioned that the coaching staff, including Johnathan Thurston, Josh Hannay, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, and potentially Alan Langer, would step in to provide media coverage. Despite the NRL and the commission approving the creation of various funds, Newton criticised the RLPA‘s diminishing control over those finances. Abdo responded by asserting that appropriate governance should be in place to ensure the proper administration of the funds. He clarified that the players and the RLPA would still have decision-making authority, with conditions in place to prevent the funds from being directed solely to the Players Association. Gold Coast Titans forward Beau Fermor, who recently suffered a season-ending ACL rupture, expressed his support for the RLPA‘s objectives. Fermor’s injury and the uncertainty surrounding hooker Aaron Booth’s future served as examples of why the RLPA‘s demands should be a vital part of a new collective bargaining agreement. Fermor applauded Booth’s progress and hoped to see him return to the game either later this year or in 2024.