Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

NRL: Scurrah hopeful over pay dispute

Warriors boss confident despite Melbourne Storm captain saying deal will be turned down.

Scurrah was reluctant to comment on the negotiation process but was confident any issues would be ironed out. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Scurrah was reluctant to comment on the negotiation process but was confident any issues would be ironed out. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah is cautiously optimistic the NRL season will start as scheduled in four weeks despite comments from Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith that players are set to reject the latest pay deal put to them by the Australian Rugby League Commission.

Smith, the Storm's players' representative, said the Collective Bargaining Agreement offered by the ARLC would be knocked back, said Brisbane's Courier-Mail.

The newspaper reported that the Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) negotiating team of club representatives agreed during talks in December to take the ARLC proposal to the players of every club for a vote.

While the NRL was yet to be told by the RLPA of the players' decision, Smith said yesterday the players would not accept it. But he later said they were closer to an agreement than he had earlier thought.

There are fears in some quarters that the season, which kicks off for the Warriors with a game against Parramatta in Sydney on March 9, could be delayed as a result.

Scurrah was reluctant to comment on the negotiation process but was confident any issues would be ironed out. However, he could not guarantee that the season would start on time.

"Obviously we want everybody to be satisfied and the season to start as scheduled and we've not been given any information which would lead us to be concerned at this point. But it's like anything else, it's like the Sky broadcasting deal, it's not done until it's done," he said.

Scurrah added: "All of our contracts are confirmed and in place for the season with the players.

"I'm certain the players want to play as much as the fans want them to and the clubs want them to, and the commission.

"Everyone understands the ramifications of that not occurring as per the schedule.

"It would only be damaging, so I'm sure everyone will be working together to ensure that [the scheduled start] happens."

It is understood that some players are opposed to several small details in the proposed CBA relating to the total A$5.85 million salary cap, welfare and education issues and bonuses for the average player.

The minimum wage will increase to A$80,000 ($83,200) a season and State of Origin match payments to A$30,000 a match.

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