This year's Rugby League World Cup could lose all of its top players, if a threatened strike comes to fruition.

That is the worst possible outcome from the increasingly bitter dispute between the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) and the NRL, over the split of revenue from next year and beyond.

The negotitations have turned ugly in recent weeks and The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the RLPA is contemplating a strike during the tournament, which runs from October 27 to December 2.

Such a strike could take out most - or all - of the NRL talent from the tournament, which would render the event almost meaningless.


The removal of stars like Shaun Johnson, Johnathan Thurston and Sam Burgess would also hit ticket sales, with punters probably unwilling to fork out for perceived second tier talent.

The tournament is being held across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with seven games in this country spread between Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

At this stage the idea has been discussed informally among players, and there is no indication that it will actually eventuate.

Such action has been talked about before, across many different sports, but in recent times large scale strikes have only occurred in the NHL and MLB.

The ongoing drama is around the new $A2 billion television deal and how it will be shared out over the next five years.

According to the Telegraph, the respective parties are more than A$150 million apart.

Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith - who is also the RLPA general president - hoped some progress could be made during the next round of talks on June 5.

"I would just like our administration to work with the players and the players association," said Smith. "I am not going to comment on who should be running the game.

"But I want them to sit down and have a reasonable conversation with the RLPA.Because it's not like we have thrown a proposal together and wanted to get as much money as we can."

However, Smith also added that the players union won't be backing down.

"We have done so in the past but the players and the RLPA aren't going to run away this time," said Smith.

"The RLPA and player group is not going to disappear with our tail between our legs. We are a patient group and believe we have put forward a balanced proposal to the NRL and believe both parties can benefit from it but also fans, clubs and members - we want to grow the game. We want to work with them not against them. It's not a cash grab for the players at all."