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Union says NRL referee pay dispute could be sorted by Grand Final

An end to the pay dispute between the NRL and its referees could be resolved before the Grand Final, according to the unions.

“Our hope is to get a settlement next week,” Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey told Macquarie Sports Radio‘s Cam Reddin.

“Good progress is being made in the negotiations,” Morey said. “We just need to get the last couple of issues knocked off and get this resolved. I think that can be done in the next couple of days, certainly early next week.”

Having medical provisions relating to injury management included in the new enterprise bargaining agreement has been a key sticking point that held up negotiations between the parties and forced the referees union to go public.

“I don’t think we’re far off at all. It’s been fairly positive most of the way through,” Morey said.

“In all these disputes you get to a point where there is a crunch point. I think we’ve got to that point. It just needs to be done now and the NRL needs to come on board,” he said.

As part of their industrial action, the ban on referees speaking directly to the media has been lifted. A uniform ban, which could see referees wear non-NRL-approved attire, will be considered for the Grand Final if a deal cannot be struck.

However, any attempt to permanently lift the media ban will not be considered going forward. Last week, former NRL referees boss Greg McCallum called for greater transparency in the decision making of match officials to improve fan-to-referee relationships.

“Frustration builds because no-one is prepared to come out, other than send an email out or a memo to say ‘the referee got it wrong on Saturday’” Greg McCallum said.

“No-one’s really out there week-in, week-0ut talking about the game, talking about interpretations, talking about the rules. People get frustrated because there is this perceived wall of silence”, he said.

Morey argued referees are “damned if [they] do and damned if [they] don’t” when speaking out on decisions.

“While it’s one of the industrial actions, I don’t think it would be a long-term preference for the group,” Morey said.

Click below to hear the full interview and listen to the Weekend Warm-Up with Cam Reddin 4.00am-7.00am Saturday and Sunday mornings