Infotainment Factory: NRL set to face off with Players' Association

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Friday, 22 February 2019

NRL set to face off with Players' Association


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The NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association are on a collision course regarding the league's policy regarding players facing criminal charges.

It is understood that up to nine NRL club chairs are advocating an immediate change in the policy, which currently allows players to play NRL games despite being charged with a criminal offence, under the presumption of innocence, until the conclusion of the investigation.

The league has faced pressure to change its policy after a horror off-season which has seen several of the league's biggest stars in trouble with the law, including Origin star Jack de Belin.

However, according to the CEO of the Players' Association Ian Prendergast, a policy change will not occur without his approval.

Jack de Belin

"Players that we've spoken to through our recent round of club visits support the current policy in terms of the players' presumption to innocence being protected, pending the outcome of the criminal matter," Prendergast told Nine News.

"Given the direct impact that it has on the employment rights of the players on the field, it needs to be agreed with us, the Players' Association, before any shift in the policy is introduced.

"The players want us as their association to protect them and to ensure that they're treated fairly.

"We understand that this is a complex issue. It's sensitive (and) there's a lot of heat around it publicly."

A decision on whether the policy will be changed will be reached at the NRL's annual general meeting next week.

The NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association are on a collision course regarding the league's policy regarding players facing criminal charges.

It is understood that up to nine NRL club chairs are advocating an immediate change in the policy, which currently allows players to play NRL games despite being charged with a criminal offence, under the presumption of innocence, until the conclusion of the investigation.

The league has faced pressure to change its policy after a horror off-season which has seen several of the league's biggest stars in trouble with the law, including Origin star Jack de Belin.

However, according to the CEO of the Players' Association Ian Prendergast, a policy change will not occur without his approval.

Jack de Belin

"Players that we've spoken to through our recent round of club visits support the current policy in terms of the players' presumption to innocence being protected, pending the outcome of the criminal matter," Prendergast told Nine News.

"Given the direct impact that it has on the employment rights of the players on the field, it needs to be agreed with us, the Players' Association, before any shift in the policy is introduced.

"The players want us as their association to protect them and to ensure that they're treated fairly.

"We understand that this is a complex issue. It's sensitive (and) there's a lot of heat around it publicly."

A decision on whether the policy will be changed will be reached at the NRL's annual general meeting next week.

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