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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

NRLPA need to step up to resolve player pay dispute

Immediate action is required to resolve the NRL's ongoing pay dispute according the NRL legend and commentator Mark Geyer.

The NRL and NRLPA are yet to reach a resolution on a new collective bargaining agreement despite being locked in talks over the summer, with the league cancelling its official season launch amid reports suggesting a player strike is not off the table.

Geyer said the situation had gone on too long.

“I’m an ex-player who knows we are nothing without fans and as soon as you mention that six letter word called strike, fans get [annoyed], and rightfully so. We ask so much of our fans, we asked them to buy virtual seats in lockdown, we asked them to buy every single jersey … we ask them to jump over hurdles and they do it,” Geyer told Sports Drive.

“I understand where the players are coming from somewhat, but they’re just going the wrong way about it. This should’ve been hashed out before Christmas.

“I just think they should get in a room together and sort this out before we get affected by it. I don’t think we’ll see a boycott of any NRL rounds per se, but just the fact it drags on so long is a real pain in the butt.”

The 2023 NRL season will be the debut of the Dolphins, with the expansion club representing Queensland’s Redcliffe Peninsula headed up by legendary coach Wane Bennett.

Geyer said he expected the Dolphins to win four or five games.

“If they weren’t coached by [Wayne Bennett], I would say the realistic expectation would be avoid the wooden spoon, which will be very hard to do, but the fact that Wayne Bennett is their coach, I think they’ve got to have a couple of teams behind them at least,” he said.

“I honestly don’t know. Sometimes I look at their team and think ‘well, they’ve got some ability, they’ve got some youngsters coming through who could be anything’, then again, I look at their depth and I worry for them, I think that it’s going to be a very long season for them.

“There’s already a buzz around them, their first game in the first week of the preseason trials was the highest rating game of the round on Foxtel, so there’s interest in them. If they start losing game after game, that interest will quickly evaporate.”

Geyer’s former club Penrith are looking to win their third consecutive premiership but have had a rocky preseason, highlighted by a shock defeat against St Helens in the World Club Challenge.

Geyer said he was not deeply concerned by the loss to the English champions.

“I think they had seventeen players, Penrith, in the whole club who played in the World Cup in some capacity, with Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, so we were pretty heavily represented in the World Cup, so a bit of jet lag,” he said. “They’ve got so much quality. Liam Martin didn’t play against St Helens, Dylan Edwards didn’t play against St Helens. Obviously had some bad news with young Taylan May being ruled out for the year with an ACL injury.

“There’s a reason that there’s only one team in the last 40 years who’s won back to back to back premierships, because it’s bloody hard. Every team’s after them even more now after they’ve gone back to back, and every time they play a team it’s going to be like a mini grand final, so they’ve got to be ready for it.”

The NRL season is scheduled to kick off next Thursday with the Parramatta Eels hosting the Melbourne Storm at CommBank Stadium.



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