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Men's Rugby League Carvell denies claims players will strike for a better deal

GARRETH CARVELL dismissed the prospect of strikes today but insisted rugby league players were ready to go to the High Court in an effort to win a fairer deal.

The former Great Britain forward, who hung up his boots at the end of the 2015 season, is now focusing all his efforts on giving players a voice in the game.

Another former international, St Helens back rower Jon Wilkin, tried it in 2012 when he helped launch League13, but that folded three years later due to a lack of support.

Carvell, 37, who made almost 350 appearances during a 19-year career with Leeds, Hull and Warrington, is a project worker for the Rugby League Players Association which has the might of the trade union GMB behind it.

“It’s been going since 1996, but it’s slowly declined in numbers,” Carvell said.

“Geoff Burrow, who is still the branch secretary, has done a fantastic job with tribunals and grievances and, up to date, has got £1.7 million for the players.

“But it’s never kicked on. We’re trying to have some input, get a seat at the table and we’re coming up with ideas to improve the sport and give it a players’ perspective.

“I was initially going to set something up on my own like Jon Wilkin but realised pretty soon I didn’t have enough funding.

“Here we look after all the rugby lads, but we’ve got the full resources of the GMB, all the legal expertise, anything to do with education and funding.”

Since Carvell began doing the rounds of the clubs in the Super League, Championship and League 1, membership has increased from around 125 to nearly 600 with more to come.

“It won’t be what people think of a typical union with strikes, it’s not like that at all, we just want to improve the game,” he said.

“We don’t want to put clubs under, but we’re recognised by the RFL and we’re writing a new recognition agreement which the clubs are hopefully going to agree and sign.

“That will allow us to look at contracts and revenue coming into the game so that it’s transparent and everyone can see what’s going on.

“The players are the assets of the game and for too long they’ve been treated like pieces of meat. They don’t want the world, they just want to be treated fairly.

“I love the game, I’ve played it since I was a six-year-old and played it for 19 years. I think the game has been stuck in a rut for about 10 years.

“I want to help contribute and the players want a say in how the future is moulded.”

Carvell says the aim is for players to have input into every facet of the game, from the make of balls to the structure of the competition and from the early feedback he detects an overwhelming call for a reduction in the number of games.

Among the more pressing matters is the association’s bid to remove the clause in contracts that enable clubs to release players in the event of relegation.

“We’re actually on with that now,” Carvell said. “A player or a club can terminate the contract if they are relegated and effectively that means every single player is on a one-year rolling contract.

“That alone would stop people getting mortgages because there’s no proof you’ve got a contract for more than a year.

“It’s a big deal. We’ve put quite a considerable amount of money to one side and we’re prepared to take it to the High Court.”

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