NRL 2022: Player union backs fine freeze for trials as veteran calls for better system

As frustrated players wait for the review of the judiciary, the players union has backed the idea of a freeze. And a veteran has weighed in on the issue.

The players union has backed the idea of a freeze on fines for trivial offences in the pre-season as their frustrated players wait for the ARL Commission to finalise their review of the match review committee and judiciary.

The pre-season will begin in earnest on Friday night under the existing match review committee and judiciary guidelines, but there is every chance the entire system could be changed in the lead-up to round one.

At the heart of the issue is whether fines will be eradicated for grade one offences, an idea that is being pushed by the players through the Rugby League Players Association.

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The pre-season kicks off in earnest on Friday night. Picture: Getty Images
The pre-season kicks off in earnest on Friday night. Picture: Getty Images

In some cases, players at the lower end of the salary cap were forced to forego a month’s pay last season for what amounted to a minor offence.

The situation is of greater significance in the pre-season because clubs will use their entire squads, meaning payers at the bottom of the pay scale will be subject to the existing match review committee rules.

Brisbane veteran David Mead addressed the issue on Thursday, revealing his wife at one point asked him why he bothered playing the game after he was hit with a pair of fines last year.

“There was one point where my wife said what is the point of playing the game if you are just going to keep getting fined,” Mead said.

“It was true - I was starting to stress out a bit. Some young guys who aren’t on big wages, you get fined a couple of times that is pretty much your wage gone.

“I understand why they brought it in - to make the game safer. In making the game safer, the well being of the player is also affected.

David Mead said his wife asked him why he plays the game, due to fines he received. Picture: Liam Kidston
David Mead said his wife asked him why he plays the game, due to fines he received. Picture: Liam Kidston

“A better system needs to be put in place. We are certainly grateful to be playing this game but to be constantly fining players and affecting their ability to pay their mortgages and save for their families or send their kids to school, I just don’t think it is a good thing to do.

“There is certainly a better way to make the game safer.” It would have been good if they had completed the review after the season was completed.“

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo has made it clear that the review is a priority but there is a view that it should have been completed by now given the preseason is about to begin.

Until it is done, the RLPA has endorsed the idea of freezing all fines until the NRL has provided some clarity.

“Ideally the review process would have been completed before now, but we have been guaranteed that it will be resolved before the start of the regular season,” RLPA chief executive Clint Newton said.

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“While we understand that this area is complex, clarity for players as the season approaches is vitally important.

“We provided a submission to the NRL in November last year after a thorough consultation process with players. Our submission included several recommendations. and importantly it outlined that players no longer support fines for judiciary matters.

”We hope to achieve alignment with the NRL and have requested an opportunity to table and debate our submission with those in charge of the review.

“Given that the model is being reviewed during the pre-season, we expect that a common-sense approach would apply to charges incurred in the next few weeks”.

As well the eradication of fines, the RLPA also want to reduce the impact of loading and carryover points, and increase the points value of finals matches and State of Origin games to help prevent stars missing big games.

The final decision is in the hands of the NRL and chief executive Andrew Abdo.

“It is not unusual to move from one system to another and there is always going to be a point of time when you move to a new system,” said Abdo as the NRL announced a $30 million deal with Australia’s fastest growing crypto currency exchange, Swyftx.

“We first have to work out what that new system looks like. Once we have done that we will work on transitional provisions or arrangements to move from the old to the new.

“If there is a requirement for grandfathering or legacy transitions with regard to sanctions, then that will be part of the consideration.

“But it is not unusual or a concern to have a system that starts from a new season - and the pre-season and All Stars have been operating under the old rules.”

NRL jumps on crypto bandwagon

The NRL has jumped on the crypto bandwagon after signing a lucrative three-year sponsorship deal with Australia’s fastest growing crypto currency exchange, Swyftx.

The sponsorship, to be officially announced later on Thursday morning, will be across the NRL, NRLW, finals, State of Origin and the All-Stars games.

Swyftx will also take over sponsorship of the bunker from 2023.

The deal is said to be the largest crypto exchange partnership in Australian sport and comes as the code prepares to officially unveil its financial figures for the past year at their annual general meeting later this month.

Originally published as NRL 2022: Player union backs fine freeze for trials as veteran calls for better system