Johnathan Thurston says he would boycott Dally M awards over pay dispute

NRL players may boycott Dally M awards
Nanjing Night Net

Johnathan Thurston says he would happily boycott the Dally M awards in grand final week over an ongoing pay dispute between the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association.

Thurston, a three-time Dally M winner, has made it clear he will consider giving up an almost certain fourth medal if the financial demands of he and his fellow players are not met.

Speaking to the Triple M’s Grill Team on Thursday morning, the North Queensland halfback said he would abandon the NRL’s showpiece awards night to make a point that he and other players, including Melbourne and Cronulla skippers Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen, are unhappy about receiving what they believe is an unfair share of the game’s revenue.

“I was one of the boys that actually raised that [boycotting the Dally M awards], we have done it in the past,” Thurston said.

“I have got no qualms or worries in doing that [not attending] if that’s what the RLPA and the players are united in doing.

“Whether that affects the NRL I’m not too sure. Of course it will a little, but I think there’s probably better ways going around it where we can be better in that area of affecting the NRL.”

The Rugby League Players Association have been discussing with the NRL the prospect of players receiving a slice of the $925 million free-to-air television deal beginning in 2018.

A number of NRL players including Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, James Maloney, Wade Graham and Ryan Hoffman retweeted a link to a Fairfax story outlining the demands of the players and the possibility they might boycott the Dally M awards.

Thurston said players are not asking for an increase in their salaries, but are more focused on retirement funds and extending the amount of annual leave from six weeks to eight.

“The biggest concern that we’re having at the moment is with the player welfare and the retirement fund,” Thurston said. “As a playing group we are 100 per cent united behind the RLPA and we feel we aren’t getting a return of serve in a professional manner.

“None of this type of stuff has been done before us, and now is the time that we believe as the players association is to stand up and be counted.”

Thurston, who is preparing for North Queensland’s clash with the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday evening, said the RLPA and players were hoping to eradicate five-day turnarounds to prevent teams, like the Melbourne Storm in recent weeks, playing three games in just 10 days.

Asked about the potential of boycotting NRL matches, Thurston remained coy and said it could be a discussion point if the NRL were not open to change.

“We haven’t spoken about boycotting games or anything like that, but if we feel as though the NRL aren’t coming to the party then we will have to have a chat and go from there and get everyone’s view on the positioning,” Thurston said.

“We’re just trying to set up a better working environment for players that are coming through and for players that will be there when the likes of myself and other players are at the back end of their careers.” 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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