DCE leads fiery showdown with NRL heavyweights
Daly Cherry-Evans is not known for his outspoken ways.
But the Manly skipper sure led a fiery showdown between the game's senior players and NRL heavyweights on Sunday.
Demanding to know where the missing million have gone, it was a marathon two-and-a-half hour meeting Rugby League Players Association chief executive Clint Newton labelled "tough" and "uncomfortable".
Newton said it also showed that the game has "grown up a lot in the last week", as everyone comes together to try to save the game from a financial collapse amid the coronavirus crisis.
But about 30 players took it in turns to direct their frustration at NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys, who only took over the role from Peter Beattie late last year.
The players have not only had to cop a massive pay cut of 75 per cent, but they have also now discovered that the NRL has short-changed their retirement fund to the tune of $10 million.
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That money has instead gone into NRL operational costs for the past two years.
It comes amid revelations that the NRL has been spending $181 million annually just putting together the regular season rounds, finals series and State of Origin.
Astonishingly, the whopping $181 million does not include payments to players or clubs.
South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly and Brisbane's Paul White were also on the phone hook-up along with representatives from each club including Wade Graham, Russell Packer, Joel Thompson and Chris Lawrence, who all had their say.
After an initial low-ball offer of $12.4 million last week, V'landys stepped into the negotiations to try and fix a mess.
That initial offer has since been upped to $20 million, which the players were last night expected to agree on.
But they also want a written guarantee that they will be given their 29.5 per cent cut of any revenue that might come into the game in coming months.
The NRL needs the players to agree to their offer before they can put it to a commission meeting on Monday that comes before the showdown with the NRL clubs later in the day.
Newton conceded it was a giant step forward compared to the lack of transparency in the past.
"It is like any good relationship, you need to be really open and honest and transparent," Newton said.
"And that is where the game in my view has grown up a lot in the last week. It was exactly what the game needs to continue to demonstrate.
"Everyone is passionate about the game and their club's survival and it is critical that everyone needs to have courageous conversation."
It was crystal clear to all on the hook-up there was a huge lack of trust and a feeling that the governing body had treated them with a degree of arrogance in the past.
The players don't have an option right now other than to try and work out a compromise.
"It is not about not telling the truth," Newton said.
"It is the fact that we haven't had an ability to form our own position based on transparency.
"Sometimes we need to hit these type of hurdles for there to be a recalibration.
"That is the part that I have to commend both Peter and Todd.
"To be on a zoom call with the best part of 20 or 30 players and be totally prepared to answer any questions that players had along with a couple of club CEOs, I think that has never happened in the game before.
"Ever. Not at that level.
"I think that is the part that is such a positive to come out of this."
Originally published as DCE leads fiery showdown with NRL heavyweights