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2023 Rabbitohs Rumors, Signings and News


From Zero Tackle,

"It's been a bit disappointing": Welch provides update on 'frustrating' pay dispute

Rugby League Players Association representative Christian Welch has claimed that bad faith leaks from league headquarters could see a resolution to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement disputes pushed back.

The Storm and Maroons star suggested on Sunday that fudged figures and an inability to break bread with the game's powerbrokers could see the simmering tensions between players and the payers stretch into the new year.

At present, the NRL has reportedly offered players a $1.3billion pay deal, which will cover the next five seasons of action. A spike of this size would result in the average player's salary increasing by 23 per cent across the life of the agreement.

With the game's governing body stressing that players' earning potential would be at a record high upon the agreement of a new collective bargaining agreement, Welch dismissed this notion, instead expressing that those at NRL HQ had botched their sums.

"All of the puppet journalists who have been fed all of those numbers, they aren't too good at maths," Welch told the ABC's Offsiders.

"They're talking about this record number of broadcast revenue for players, but they're only counting 30 players in the male teams. They're including the NRLW offer with the NRL offer, but they're not including any of the women's (figures).

"It's been a bit disappointing because there's have been comments like 'oh, we're not going to negotiate in the media', but then all of this leaked info - private, confidential info - (gets fed to media outlets)."

Welch, an MBA student with a self-professed "interest in the commercial side of sport", went on to say that having sat in these meetings with administrators, the players' respect had been taken for granted.

"I'm on the board for the RLPA, and I've been in some of those negotiations, and I think we've been really respectful, to be honest, throughout the year," the switched-on forward added.

The 28-year-old also contended that those holding the purse strings may not have been acting in good faith, stating that auditors had played a role in revealing the true value of the players' labour in a revenue-sharing split.

"There was $11 million on the table (from the game's heads), but we sent some auditors in, and it turns out there is $40 million in there buried," Welch continued.

"No one really talks about the broadcast deal that was negotiated early in the middle of the pandemic. I understand why Fox and Channel Nine don't want to talk about that, for obvious reasons, but I think we've really acted in good faith and it's really frustrating to see how it's playing out at the moment."

Though current negotiations affect the fortunes of all players, Welch was at pains to highlight just how precarious the situation was for those within NRLW circles.

Despite claiming the World Cup with their own victory at Old Trafford on Sunday morning, Australian time, members of Brad Donald's Jillaroos squad were risking far more than just pride during their 54-4 romp over the Kiwis.

"The people that are suffering now are the women. We're going to do our first CBA for the NRLW, so all of those women that won that World Cup tonight, they can't sign any contracts with NRL clubs at the moment," Welch empathised.

"If one of them did an ACL overnight, the likelihood of them securing a contract for next year, there's no chance of it.

"It's been pretty disappointing, to be honest, but hopefully we can build a healthier relationship with the NRL, and really build towards a really positive next five years, which, hopefully, be a CBA."

The Storm prop's refreshingly open comments come just days after teammate Harry Grant expressed that those earning south of his seven-figure salary would be "better off getting on the tools" rather than signing an agreement within the current climate.

Grant's open chiding of league administrators was echoed by Eels and Kiwis half Dylan Brown who was happy to stand in the rake's corner, despite competing on different sides for both club and country.

NRL players and clubs entered the new contractual year on November 1, meaning off-contract players could commence negotiations with rival clubs in the market.
It’s not good enough I’m over it.


Staff member
Mitchell keen to tour with Indigenous All Stars, but not at Kangroos expense: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/mi...not-at-kangaroos-expense-20221122-p5c0ed.html

Also, from Zero Tackle,

Clubs set to make enormous financial compromise with NRL

NRL clubs are reportedly set to sacrifice a combined total of up to $85 million in a bid to keep the NRL sustainable as drawn out negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement continue.

Negotiations between the NRL, Australian Rugby League Commission, Rugby League Players Association and clubs have been continuing for the best part of 12 months.

The previous CBA expired on October 31, and as yet, clubs still don't know the final salary cap total for the 2023 season, with players such as Cooper Johns and (reportedly) Matt Lodge, forced to move onto $1000 per week train and trial deals to continue training during the pre-season as they await the final figure of the salary cap to sign new deals.

In the latest development over club funding, NRL clubs have reportedly written to the NRL suggesting they are now asking for less money than was agreed on in the 2016 MOU.

“The clubs have approached these discussions from the outset in the spirit of compromise — willing to accept a significant discount on the legally binding MOU funding commitment in order to support the sustainability of the NRL, invest in participation/pathways and agree to a fair deal with the players," a letter to NRL CEO Andrew Abdo reads, according to News Corp.

“The clubs remain committed to approaching these discussions in good faith, and also believe confirming the detail that sits alongside the financial proposals is vitally important for all parties.”

The NRL are known to want to reach an agreement as soon as possible, although clubs are believed to be less optimistic in the timeline of events.

Clubs are adamant they are prepared to sacrifice up to $85 million, with it being reported that clubs have praised the NRL's revised offers, although a deal is yet to be confirmed, with clubs wanting to hit the $5 million figure in funding.


Staff member
From Zero Tackle,

New licensing agreements could see more women on NRL boards

A historic step is reportedly being proposed to all NRL clubs as the ARL Commission continues negotiating club licensing agreements.

The step would come in the form of an agreement that all NRL clubs must include at least one female member on their boards.

The Daily Telegraph revealed this in a report and added that the stipulation would be added to the agreement under the term “minimum standards”.

Every club's license expires after next season, and this is just another potential issue in what have been intense and complicated negotiations with both the players and clubs, as there's a chance not everyone will agree.

But the main issue remains funding, and should the clubs get their desired financing, they will surely be much more agreeable with the new rules that come with the cash.

Recent comments from NRL CEO Andrew Abdo have suggested that an agreement may be close after the clubs agreed to take less money to keep the game sustainable.

But negotiations remain ongoing, and a timeframe of completion remains unclear.

What is clear is ARL chairman Peter V'landys commitment to women in Rugby League; as he commented earlier this year at a function for Women in League round, he wants to make NRLW Australia's premier women's sporting league.

“Rugby league brings us all together, the ambition for the ARLC is to have rugby league as the number one female sport in Australia,” V'landys said.

“We want to grow the women's game and make it equal to the men's game.”

With ambition like that, it's easy to see why he'd like to see NRL boards become more gender diverse, it just remains to be seen if this new proposal will be implemented.


Staff member
'Let's stop the bull***' - Bennett calls for overhaul of Origin eligibility rules after WC success: https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...a/news-story/e28afd12697467c291ba0d2ecef696d7

From Zero Tackle,

"The rules have worked very well": QRL boss calls for status quo over Origin rules

Queensland Rugby League CEO Bruce Hatcher has suggested that State of Origin rules regarding the eligibility of Pacific Island players should not change.

It has been widely reported that the NRL would consider tinkering with the current eligibility rules should Tonga and Samoa be given Tier 1 status.

Tonga made the semi-finals at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and quarter-finals of the most recently completed tournament, losing to Samoa, who made the final of the tournament in England, and have made the quarter-finals of the previous two editions.

Both Pacific Island nations had numerous State of Origin players in their ranks, with the Australian Rugby League Commission's current map for eligibility stating that players may play for New South Wales or Queensland while representing a Tier 2 nation.

No players who choose to represent another Tier 1 nation - New Zealand or England - may play for either state in the Origin series however, a move which has ended Victor Radley's chances of playing for New South Wales in the future after he played for England during the World Cup.

Hatcher told News Corp though that he would fight any changes to the rules, even if Tonga and Samoa become Tier 1 nations.

“I am a great believer in leaving Origin as it stands," Hatcher told News Corp.

“The rules have worked very well. I would be very reluctant to tinker with them. There is a lot of pride in playing for Queensland. It's different. It's unique.

“It has worked well as it is. I have got no problem with people being concerned about expanding the interests of international football but I wouldn't want to make people play for Queensland whose major objective is playing for the country of their birth (other than Australia)."

There have been some suggestions that other Tier 1 players could also play State of Origin, although it's unclear where the ARLC sits on that issue.

The IRL have so far made no suggestion that Tonga or Samoa would become Tier 1 nations, with multiple factors outside of on-field performance also set to go into any decision.

It's understood that following the recent tournament in England, where Matt Parish's side lost the final to the Kangaroos, multiple Samoan players gave their long-term commitment to the island nation.

All of Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Jarome Luai, Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo played State of Origin, before going on to represent Samoa this year, while a trio of players in the Kangaroos' squad - Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Murray Taulagi and Jeremiah Nanai - could have done the same but opted against it.

Jaydn Su'A and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow have also played Origin previously but represented Samoa.

Tonga also named a handful of players who either played Origin this year, or have done previously, with David Fifita, Moeaki Fotuaika, William Hopoate, Felise Kaufusi, Siosifa Talakai and Daniel Tupou running out for Mate Ma'a.

Valentine Holmes was the only other multi-eligible player in the Kangaroos squad, with the gun Cowboys and Queensland centre able to represent the Cook Islands if he so chose.

Should the Origin eligibility rules change, or Samoa and Tonga become Tier 1 nations, the ability for all of those players to represent both State and Pacific Island nation of heritage, would disappear.


Staff member
TrellTV? Souths superstar signs on for huge new role: https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...s/news-story/2e70fa6ad7a1b51cd8f1839fc2c85fb9

This is pretty damn cool for Trell!! Good on him! Great for us Souths fans too. Looking forward to seeing him on Fox more often!

In other news,

'It's very tricky' - Brad Fittler's suggestion for State of Origin eligibility: https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/st...y/news-story/ab58db781e52e380c3e0932e031e937f

From Zero Tackle,

NRL green-lights State of Origin eligibility review

The ongoing debate around State of Origin eligibility is set to continue a little longer, with ARLC chair Peter V'landys telling fellow commissioner Wayne Pearce to conduct a review of Origin eligibility rules ahead of the 2023 series.

The decision follows the recent debate about the Tier status of Pacific Test nations, as well as a push for Tier-1 players from New Zealand and England to enter the interstate arena.

NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler recently advised he'd support the decision provided players could prove they'd been playing in Australia since the age of 13, claiming players shouldn't be punished for having the desire to represent their heritage.

Traditionalists argue that Origin's roots as an Australian selection trial should keep it free from the incursion of foreign players. Those laws have been preserved in certain forms, with players unable to play State of Origin if they've appeared for New Zealand or England at international level.

Pearce, who will conduct the review, has told NewsCorp that there is a realistic possibility that players of New Zealand or British descent could enter the Origin arena – provided his review supports such a change.

Pearce is expected to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including current Origin coaches Billy Slater and Brad Fittler.

“My personal view is that the Origin concept has evolved,” Pearce said.

“There are now so many international players in the game that Origin should no longer be seen as a pathway to representation for Australia – on the proviso that players fulfil the criteria of eligibility for State of Origin.

Victor Radley has become a focal point of the discussion, with his decision to represent England ruling him out of further selection despite being a member of Fittler's extended Origin squad this year.

But the rule change could also make players like Jason Taumalolo eligible, given he moved to Townsville aged 13 and has represented Australia at Schoolboy level. He has since represented New Zealand but currently plays for Tonga.

But like most things in the NRL at the moment, any potential review is being held up by the constant delays in CBA negotiations.

“We haven't started the review yet because we've been working through the CBA,” Pearce said.

“We'd started one, but with all the dramas last year we didn't get to completion.

“We have to get together with stakeholders to work out what will effectively be the best outcome for the game. We have to look at the potential downside (of opening eligibility).”

Peter V'landys expects any outcomes to be resisted, but is maintaining a pragmatic approach.

“It's a very polarising issue,” V'landys told NewsCorp.

“The Origin review will happen and we will seek everyone's views and come to a landing.

“But a lot of people didn't want changes to the rules last time, so it won't be an easy process.”



What sad news for George a big shame. He did himself and his family proud on the field. I will never forget what he bought to Souths and especially his performance in the 2014 GF, he will be a forever a Rabbitoh!


Staff member
Burgess announces retirement: https://www.nrl.com/news/2022/01/27/2022-signings-tracker-official-rosters-for-all-17-nrl-clubs/

Although he hasn't played for us since 2019, I'm actually really saddened by George's retirement. Was hoping he'd return as was rumored and have one last hurrah with us, even if it was in a bit oof a reduced capacity. Just not meant to be I guess.

In my eyes, George is a South Sydney legend. A Premiership winner, and not just a Premiership winner, but a player who played a MASSIVE role in us getting there, both in the years before and in the GF itself. I'm sure no Souths fan will ever forget his try in that game, truly one for the ages. It tipped the scales in our favour, shifted momentum and from there, the rest is history. In fact, I'll never forget his entire Grand Final performance! I have no doubt that had Sam not broken his cheekbone, George probably wins the Clive Churchill, he was that good.

A real shame injuries cut his career short.

Thanks for the memories George and thanks for everything you did for our club.

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