The NRL has identified the latest casualty of the ongoing CBA dispute between the NRL and the players, with a stalemate between the two sides threatening to boil over.
The NRL has suspended the start of its season.
The traditional pre-season event has been a staple of the NRL calendar. However, club bosses were told on Tuesday afternoon that Thursday’s event had been cancelled.
The event has fallen victim to an ongoing CBA dispute between the NRL and players. The NRL’s decision to press start has averted any potential confrontation with players who have indicated they are ready to boycott.
Players have already refused to deal with the NRL’s official website as the impasse between the two sides threatened to boil over. Players have also refused to take part in the governing body’s promotional activities in recent weeks.
However, tensions have eased in recent days as talks continue on Tuesday, with both sides inching closer to a settlement.
The decision to cancel the launch mitigates any potential backlash as the parties move toward a deal.
Each club usually sends their captain and top players to help start the season.
HOC Commission Chairman Peter V’Landis intervened in the talks on Monday, hoping a deal could be reached by the end of this week.
White Bay Cruise Terminal hosted the start of the season in 2021, while the NRL scrapped its plan to hold the promotion in Penrith last year due to flooding.
Instead, they donated money to support grassroots clubs affected by the floods.
An NRL spokesman confirmed the event had been cancelled.
“Due to ongoing collective bargaining negotiations, the NRL will not be holding its season launch function this Thursday as originally planned,” it said in a statement.
“The NRL remains focused on making positive progress on the joint NRL and NRLW agreements.”
Originally published as NRL cancels season opener as CBA drama continues to shadow season