NZRL, RLPA in collective bargaining talks for Kiwis players after NRL ends Test match top-up

NZRL, RLPA in collective bargaining talks for Kiwis players after NRL ends Test match top-up

The NZRL and RLPA are in discussions about an historic collective bargaining agreement for Kiwis players as their Test match payments are no longer being topped up by the NRL.

The CBA discussions commenced earlier this year and continued at a meeting on Wednesday in which NZRL officials also addressed player welfare issues relating to the June 23 Test against England in Denver.

To encourage New Zealand eligible players to choose to play for the Kiwis ahead of State of Origin, the NRL has been contributing towards their Test match payments so they received the same amount as Australian players.

The Kangaroos are paid $20,000 for stand-alone Tests, while NSW and Queensland players receive $30,000 per Origin.

However, that top up arrangement for Kiwis players ended with the negotiation of a new five-year collective bargaining agreement between the NRL and RLPA, which was finalised last November.

With the talks between the NZRL and RLPA in the formative stages, it is unlikely a CBA for Kiwis players will be in place before the controversial Test against England at Denver's Mile High Stadium.

However, it is hoped that the Kiwis players will be covered by their own CBA for the first time before the three-Test series against England at the end of the season.

Shaun Johnson and Kiwi Test players.
Shaun Johnson and Kiwi Test players. ©Fiona Gooddall/NRL Photos

After meeting with NRL club CEOs about the Denver Test on Tuesday, NZRL officials made a similar presentation to the RLPA on Wednesday.

Despite concerns by the NRL, clubs and the RLPA about the flight time to Denver and the short turnaround for New Zealand and England players, there is an acceptance that the Test will go ahead.

A letter signed last week by NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast and South Sydney CEO Blake Solly, on behalf of the club, asked for details of remuneration for players in the Denver Test.

Promotor Jason Moore, who convinced the Major League Baseball to open the 2014 season at the SCG and is behind the 2025 World Cup in North America, is reported to be guaranteeing the NZRL $500,000 for the Test.

The NZRL has responded to concerns about insurance for players by announcing that they would receive the same cover as those involved in Holden State of Origin the following day at ANZ Stadium.

Some players, such as St George Illawarra's James Graham and Gareth Widdop, will arrive back from Denver just two days before their club's match against Parramatta on Thursday, June 28.

The Warriors and Melbourne Storm, who are expected to supply a significant number of the Kiwis squad, play matches on Friday, June 29.

However, NRL players from both countries and England coach Wayne Bennett have spoken out in support of the Test.

The Kiwis will appoint a new coach before the Test, with applications for the job closing last Friday.