• RLPA chief executive Ian Prendergast (centre) at Monday night's players meeting. (AAP)Source: AAP
Former rugby league star Owen Craigie says it’s about time the NRL players stuck together and gave the once ‘pointless’ Players’ Association the strength to have a real impact.
Owen Craigie

Over the Black Dot
23 Aug 2017 - 12:34 PM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2017 - 12:34 PM

The way the NRL players have all attended mass meetings this week has been a really interesting step.

It’s quite unique, but about time the players band together.

The last time we saw a little bit of it was the Super League – ARL wars. But now with the Players’ Union there, a lot of these guys now are sticking solid and sticking with each other and what they’re asking for, I think, eventually they’ll get it. Because without the players and without the supporters, there is no game.

With social media, we see a lot more, but there is much greater pressure on the players.

That’s what I wrote a bit about last week, how social media’s really taken the game to a whole new level. Years ago players could get away with a few things but now it’s so public. They’re making even bigger sacrifices now, a lot of these players, not just putting their body on the lie week in and week out. So I think what they’re asking for, the players deserve.

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Everyone wants the same thing and there is no Rugby League Players’ Association if the players don’t band together.

There’s always been a Rugby League Players’ Association in there but they’ve been pointless, they’ve been weak the last 20 years.

I remember when I was playing, they had it there but it was like, ‘Well what do ya actually do? What are ya doin?’

It’s not until they get the full support of the players, then they’ve got a powerful voice the Rugby League Players’ Association. Other than that, they’re just an organisation that are ready there for band aid solution.

It’s these current players in this generation now, because you’ve got four or five 'Immortals', you’ve got Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis – all these guys that are a part of it and they’re living Immortals.

Everyone’s following their lead - and without these guys voicing for the Players’ Association, there is no Players Association.

One day they’re all going to be Immortals of the game. There’s no better people to advocate on your behalf for an organisation than those group of guys. Because they’re voicing their opinions, and other players are supporting them, because they’re the leaders. Everyone’s following their lead - and without these guys voicing for the Players’ Association, there is no Players Association.

But it’s impressive what they’re all doing, these current players, and there’s none better than Cameron Smith and those Queensland guys. They know what success is and they’ve got success at the Melbourne Storm and they’ve got a ‘no dickhead’ policy at Melbourne Storm. And that breeds leaders down there, champions. And that’s what you want.

And if you’re gonna have someone advocating on your behalf, why not them guys? Why not follow their lead?

While it keeps bubbling along, there’s still talk about a boycott of the Dally M and other big events.

If it’s come to that, it is what it is I suppose. If they’re not gonna come out and support the players, well there’s no use the players supporting what they’re trying to do.

At the end of the day, money speaks many languages. It’s an old cliché but you still have to do the right thing. You still have to be fair. The league’s getting all this money from this big TV deal, then look after your products, look after your players, look after your clubs.

At the end of the day, money speaks many languages. It’s an old cliché but you still have to do the right thing. You still have to be fair.

Because without them, there is no game. That’s what it comes down to. And it’s simple and it’s easy but I don’t know why things are made to be so hard in this industry.

The players are getting their message right too, with that meeting on Monday night, 100 per cent.

Two hundred heads is better than one head. History shows you that in numbers you’ll succeed, individually you’ll fail. No matter in lie or sport or business, it’s just the way it is. It is what it is.

The game should be very worried that Australia mightn’t field a team in the World Cup. Or probably not their best team anyway.

And this is what we’ve got to realise too: this is how important this means to these players to get this done. They’re willing not to play in the World Cup and boycott the Dally Ms. That’s how much it means to these guys. So it’s a serious topic here.

The media can have a field day and say and write what they want. But at the end of the day, if any of these guys in the media or general public were in their shoes, they’d be fighting the same cause for the same battles for the same outcome.

While that happens off the field, on the field there a huge amount to keep getting excited about.

Currently, it’s the second last round of the regular season and if I was any team out there, there’s a lot of focus on the Broncos and there’s a lot of focus on the Storm and there’s a lot of focus on the Roosters, but mark my word, if Penrith Panthers keep playing and winning with what they do, they’ll upset a lot of teams.

They’ll give this competition a real shake because when it’s a two horse race and there’s 80 minutes left to play, those guys at Penrith, they’re in fine form.

We’ve got Nathan Cleary on the show tonight as well and we’ll talk about that. I hope you can join us then.


To hear more from Owen Craigie and for all of your rugby league news, tune in to Over the Black Dot on NITV at 9.30pm every Wednesday.

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