Cameron Smith is prepared to lead a boycott of the Dally M awards if the collective bargaining agreement stalemate isn’t resolved, despite the fact he stands to lose most from the action.
Smith is in the invidious position of being the president of the Rugby League Players’ Association and also one of the shortest-priced favourites in Dally M medal history. Sportsbet苏州美甲学校苏州美甲学校论坛 has listed Smith at the unbackable odds of $1.15, with Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans on the next line of betting at $9.
The Melbourne, Queensland and Australia captain has been at the forefront in representing the players in their pay war with the NRL, which is at an impasse despite an in-principle agreement having been reached on a $9.4 million salary cap for next year.
The parties will resume negotiations on Tuesday and have set aside additional time the following week to discuss the union’s concerns, which include access to phone and bank records, injury compensation, career transition and wellbeing and educational support.
The parties are hopeful the issues can be resolved in coming weeks, but the RLPA has an action plan if its demands aren’t met. The contingency strategy includes launching a legal challenge to the salary cap, pulling out of promotional finals activities, including the captain’s call, snubbing the Rugby League World Cup and boycotting the Dally Ms.
The latter action was taken just once, in 2003, in a move that prevented Craig Gower from accepting the prestigious gong. While Smith, who won the 2006 Dally M medal, is confident a solution can be reached without industrial action, he is prepared to pull out of the awards night as an act of solidarity with the playing group.
“I would,” Smith told Fairfax Media. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to win one before – it was a long time ago. They don’t [come often]. It takes a lot of hard work to win one and you have to be lucky as well.
“But I’ve made a commitment to this playing group and this RLPA cause. It’s the right thing to do for our playing group and I’m willing to sacrifice that night.
“I’m not saying at all that I’m going to win it, but it’s something I’m willing to stick with the group with. If that is to happen, then so be it.
“But I’m extremely confident that if [the parties] sit down and nut this out, we won’t even have to worry about not attending the Dally Ms.”
Smith is not only the game’s best player but also the ultimate statesman. He praised the work of NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg since he became involved in negotiations and thanked the governing body for making concessions that have put a landmark deal within reach. However, he has no hesitation in putting the playing group’s cause above his Dally M medal ambitions.
“There’s no doubt it’s an interesting one, but I think I’ve shown my commitment and where that lies – and that’s with the players’ association and our playing group,” Smith said.
“I’m the current Australian captain and feel very passionately about the players playing the game at the moment and the future of the playing group.
“I’m 34 this year, I’ve only got a couple of years left and I really want this deal to set a standard for the playing group for the next five to 10 years.
“As far as boycotting events like the Dally M and this sort of stuff, I’m extremely hopeful we won’t get there. To set the record straight, we haven’t threatened any boycott so far. All we have said is that we won’t rule any options out. I’m extremely confident this deal can get done.
“There’s just a couple of little things that need to be nutted out and over the next two to three weeks ??? and we’ll have a deal done. Then the players can have their Dally M night, the World Cup won’t be threatened by any type of industrial actions, there will be no court proceedings.
“In saying that, on the issues we feel strongly about, we’re not going to back down. We believe they are important for the playing group and how we structure this CBA going forward.”
The players have been portrayed in some sections as being greedy after refusing to ratify the NRL’s latest offer at a mass meeting of players during the week. However, save for their push for a revenue-share arrangement, most of their remaining demands aren’t financial.
“This is the most disappointing thing for the players and the guys working at the RLPA,” Smith said.
“Sure, there’s been a part of these discussions where we’ve had to discuss financials and how much money is coming in to the player pool. But there are far more issues in the game we have to change.
“There’s a lot of discussions around education and wellbeing, retirement playing schemes.
“We’re seeing a lot of players affected by their transition out of the playing ranks back into normal life. This is a major issue for players; we don’t want to see them struggle in their own lives once they finish playing.
“That’s a big thing for us, how we come up with some structures and plans around that. We need to sit down and sort that out with the NRL – they need to have some sort of buy-in around those projects with us.”
As the Australian captain, Smith said he was hopeful it won’t come to a World Cup boycott.
“Being involved in the last World Cup, that was one of the more outstanding tournaments I’ve been involved in,” he said.
“I was so proud of the way the rugby league community came together for that one. I feel this World Cup will be even bigger. I’d hate to stop the opportunity for those developing nations to be in a World Cup because it means so much to everyone involved in that tournament.
“If we all come to an agreement we all win out of it, the players, the clubs, the NRL and, more importantly, the fans. The game can only move forward from here.”