As the NRL players prepare to reject the latest Australian Rugby League Commission’s (ARL) salary cap proposal, the threat of a delayed start to the season looms, however at least one high profile players believes a lockout is the absolute worst case scenario.
Much like recent lockouts in the NBA and NHL that saw large chunks of the season wasted, the start of the NRL premiership season could also be in doubt, however Australian Test captain Cameron Smith is not a subscriber to this theory despite the season being just a month away.
"I don't think so," Smith told The Australian.
"I think the players are really keen to get something resolved with the NRL. We all want to be playing football and I know the fans want to see some football.
"So, fingers crossed we can get it all done."
Smith said the latest ARL proposal would be "knocked back" by the Rugby League Players Association as the players remain opposed to not just the $5.85 million salary cap, but also welfare and education issues and players bonuses.
NRL clubs have already budged on a number of issues, including raising the salary cap $4.4 million to $5.85 million, a raise of the marquee player allowance from $300,000 to $550,000 and increasing concessions of elite and low level players.
The negotiations thus far have been extremely active with the ARL willing to move on a number of fronts. After securing a $1.025 billion broadcasting deal, the league has agreed to raise the cap to the aforementioned figure slightly below $6 million and increase it gradually until it reaches $7 million in 2017.
The players may sound like they're being unfair, especially if the season is delayed because of the salary cap issue, but the players remain unhappy with a number of unspecified clauses in the proposed deal.
It’s hard to point the finger at a stage where much of the inside information has yet to be revealed, however as fans in the US can attest to, missing any type of sport because of unresolved bickering between players and their teams is no fun at all.
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