Fiji Rugby League players still not paid three months after RL World Cup

Alex Broun 10:54 24/02/2018
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Fiji Rugby League players have still not paid been three months after their RL World Cup heroics where they reached the semi-final of the tournament.

It is also two weeks after a public statement from the Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) saying the players would be paid  within 10 to 14 days.

The Bati players are now refusing to play for Fiji again until they receive the overdue payments.

This puts in jeopardy plans for Fiji to play in a four-nation series in April.

The players confirmed on Friday they are still yet to be paid since making a statement on February 5 and captain Kevin Naiqama making a second public statement on February 7.

Fiji Bati players have still not been paid semi final prize money from the RLWC 2017 after their quarter-final upset defeat of the NZ Kiwis and then RLWC 2017 semi-final exit to the Australian Kangaroos,” read the February 5 statement.

“The Fiji Bati players are now demanding to be paid and will stand down from playing another Test/ International in 2018.

“Fiji Bati players are also demanding a leadership overhaul of current Fiji National Rugby League board [for] their poor handling of RLWC campaign.”

The players also allege that between February 5 to 8 the FNRL promised “multiple times” to pay the players within two weeks.

“It is envisaged that within the next 10 to 14 days, the players will get their payment,” said Filimoni Vosaroga, the Chairman of the FNRL.

Kevin Naiqama in action against Australia

Kevin Naiqama in action against Australia

Responding to the failure to meet the payment deadline Naiqama  said: “What we experienced was not good enough, and we’ve come to an agreement as a playing group that we will stand down from any Fiji Bati Tests until we get paid.”

“The players’ biggest gripe is over the late transfers of $35 allowances provided by the tournament that were believed to be topped up by the FNRL.”

Naiqama claimed the delayed payments lasted the entire campaign, and almost forced the squad to pull out of an appearance before the Fijian High Commission in Canberra.

It was only a last-ditch meeting with the Bati’s leadership group — involving NRL stars Jarryd Hayne, Akuila Uate and Api ­Koroisau — that prevented a possible revolt.

“That would’ve looked really bad,” Naiqama said.

But it is the failure to pass on the $125,000 prizemoney from reaching the semi-finals that was the final straw for the playing group, and Naiqama said the players’ ­demanded change.

FNRL chairman Filimoni Vosaroga

FNRL chairman Filimoni Vosaroga

“There was a contract we signed that has everything in black-and-white,” he said.

“They were happy to give us 100 per cent of the prizemoney and it’s something we have not received.

“We had countless meetings with (CEO) Timoci Naleba and (chairman) Filimoni Vosarogo which we thought went really well, but ended up as blatant lies.”

Naiqama said the group’s main concern was for the non-fulltime players, most based in Fiji, who urgently need the money for living expenses for them and their family.

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