It seems almost unbelievable, but NRL players are not insured against permanent disability under the terms of their contracts. It is an issue that has been raised again today by the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
In the article Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah has hinted that NRL players may consider strike in an effort to get the NRL to act on promises it has made over the last two years to players that coverage would be sorted out for players who are forced from the game for good due to injury.
This whole issue shows how pathetically inept the Rugby League Players Association is. Time and time again we are seeing issues that directly effect player welfare and the RLPA is MIA.
Quite simply, players should not have played a single game once the new broadcasting deal was in place if insurance for permanent disability were not in place. The RLPA should have forced the issue.
I have been critical over the way the RLPA has handled a number of issues. For instance, they should have been straight to Newcastle as soon as word started to filter out that players were not being payed. They should have sat down with the Knights board and told them that not a single player will line up until all wages had been payed.
The RLPA was lacking when the ASADA issue hit the Cronulla Sharks. They should have been one of the main players on the scene and supported players, giving them independent advice, telling them all to individually get their own legal council, and making sure their welfare was looked after.
Even as Todd Carney was being sacked by the Cronulla Sharks for his now famous photo, where were the RLPA? Sure there isn’t too much they could do to stop him being sacked, but if they are not there to support a player during the toughest time of his career what are they actually there for?
The reason organisations like the Former Origin Greats and Men Of League Foundation exist is because the RLPA is bloody hopeless at looking after the welfare of players.
The fact that they don’t guide players who go through difficult issues, that they struggled to negotiate with the NRL to get a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, and that players still don’t have permanent disability insurance in place….it makes me question why any player would pay a single dollar in fee’s to keep the RLPA going!
There are a few issues I have seen over the years that I felt were important enough for players to vote on strike action. It never gets anywhere near that however because the RLPA is a toothless tiger.
If players want a better deal from the NRL, they need to sort out the RLPA. They need to become more active in the RLPA and bring in better administrators who will actually look out for their bests interests.
Players should be insured for permanent disability. Players like Alex McKinnon should not be left to rely on charity events and good will to know they are looked after for the rest of their life because of an injury sustain on an NRL field.
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