Buderus: Why the RLPA are digging in
The NRL is in the midst of contentious and lengthy discussions with the Rugby League Players Association and all 16 clubs regarding the next Collective Bargaining Agreement and, for the first time, former Knights and Blues skipper Danny Buderus says the RLPA has a united playing group behind it.
At the heart of what the RLPA is asking for is a revenue-share model similar to that which has been employed by other sports in the past and which the players say would make them "genuine partners" in the game moving forward.
Such a model would see a greater proportion of the game's revenue apportioned to the players in the NRL but writing in this week's issue of Big League, Buderus said such funds would be used far more broadly than simply increasing the amount players are paid each year.
"When you hear about the players sharing in any additional growth of revenue in the future, it's important to note it's unlikely any of that will be spent on salaries," Buderus writes in the Round 19 issue of Big League.
"It's more likely to go to areas that assist with post-football (such as a retirement fund and well-being and education programs), or to be spent on addressing welfare issues (such as improved insurance systems, medical assistance for retired players, research initiatives to improve the welfare, health and safety of players).
"The players' share needs to recognise their contribution and the value they provide to the game, while balancing the other areas of the game that need attention to maintain and improve the prosperity of the code we love.
"Let's hope for the sake of our game the powers-that-be mend some bridges and work hard for a common ground, because in a time when we have so many things to be grateful for, a lot of the negativity surrounding the future of the game won't be resolved until the CBA is signed and sealed."
The RLPA was formed way back in 1979 but it has only been in the past decade that players have begun to see the importance in throwing their weight behind the association.
Throughout the State of Origin series some of the game's most high-profile players have represented the concerns of the RLPA in talking with the media and Buderus has no doubt that the united front gives them a position of strength in any negotiations.
"When I became a member some 17 years ago, players were half-in and half-out because they either didn't think membership was important, or because getting a seat or having a voice at the table wasn't needed," Buderus says. "Maybe they thought no one would listen.
"It's a very different situation today, with 100 per cent of the players on board as members and buying into the RLPA's vision for the game.
"Over the past five years or so, the players have taken massive steps towards becoming as united as they've ever been.
"They're more educated than ever before and ready to fight like we've never seen, for the conditions they feel they deserve and for bringing our game into the new age.
"They want to be shareholders in the game, like in so many other leading sporting associations around the world."
The Round 19 issue of Big League features an in-depth interview with Knights captain Sione Mata'utia, Josh Mansour's fight for a Kangaroos jersey, the best buys of 2017 and the top eight infamous interviews of all time. On sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and online.