Voice of players vital for future of the game - Luke Gale

Luke Gale says the thoughts and feelings of players need to be heard in terms of shaping the game's future. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comLuke Gale says the thoughts and feelings of players need to be heard in terms of shaping the game's future. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Luke Gale says the thoughts and feelings of players need to be heard in terms of shaping the game's future. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com | © SWpix.com (t/a Photography Hub Ltd)
IF YOU are on Twitter and follow any Super League players, don’t worry - your phone or laptop hasn’t gone on the blink.

Your feed will have been full of pictures of blue squares the other day, but it wasn’t a technical fault, it was part of our campaign for a louder voice in the running of the sport.

That is something I wrote about last week and it has been stepped up with the support of our union, the GMB.

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Players got together to Tweet the message “United we stand to work together for a greater game”, along with the hashtag #onevoice.

Leeds Rhinos' Luke Gale, pictur in action against Toronto Wolfpack earlier this year. 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.Leeds Rhinos' Luke Gale, pictur in action against Toronto Wolfpack earlier this year. 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Leeds Rhinos' Luke Gale, pictur in action against Toronto Wolfpack earlier this year. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

It captured the public attention and had people asking what it’s all about, which was what we wanted.

We want to raise awareness of the fact things are being discussed which will directly affect us and we don’t have a say in them.

In the past we have not had one strong union and everyone pulling together in the same direction, but that is changing now.

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I think it’s important people from every team jump on board - as they have done - and say ‘we are stronger together’.

EXIT DOOR: John Bateman is another homegrown Super League star who now plies his trade in the NRL, playing for Canberra Raiders. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.EXIT DOOR: John Bateman is another homegrown Super League star who now plies his trade in the NRL, playing for Canberra Raiders. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.
EXIT DOOR: John Bateman is another homegrown Super League star who now plies his trade in the NRL, playing for Canberra Raiders. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images. | 2019 Getty Images

A few of the senior boys from each club got involved and set up a WhatsApp group to get their heads together and see how we can have more of an influence.

We’ve all been in the game a while, we understand the issues and we have got something to offer when it comes to taking the sport forward.

It is not all about the salary cap.

I know that’s what some people think, but it just happens to be the big matter at hand right now.

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The reason we are doing this is to get a say and make sure we have a seat at the table and an input when big decisions are made.

I think that is massively important.

Why shouldn’t we have a seat at the table and discuss the plans we are going to be involved in?

That’s why we did our Twitter takeover on Wednesday.

In terms of the salary cap, I’m glad it has been agreed to leave it at the current level. I don’t run a club and I don’t know the finances, but I do understand Covid-19 is going to have an effect this year definitely and next year as well.

I realise why clubs are concerned about the money side of things and as players we want the game to get through this period intact and thrive in the years going forward.

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We have all taken wage cuts this season, so we’re not being unreasonable about that, but my opinion was that cutting the salary cap would have been a massive backwards step.

For the last few years we have been trying to get our game bigger and better, market it better and make it a bigger spectacle.

Returning to the salary cap we had a few years ago would have been a sign of going backwards and all the hard work that has been put in would have been lost. For me, for the clubs to agree continuing with the cap at the current level as they have is a much better way of doing things, for the sport as a whole, not just individual players.

Another factor is what Super League would have looked like in a year or two’s time if the cap had been reduced.

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At the moment we are under pressure from rugby union and the NRL and that will only increase. Look at how many of our good young players now are going to Australia. Cutting the cap would not have stopped that, it would only have made the talent drain worse if we had gone down that route.

Aussie clubs are already keeping an eye on the young players we have coming through and I think they will be getting ready to swoop.

Look at John Bateman, he is only 26 now and he is in his second season at Canberra Raiders. I don’t blame any player for taking up an opportunity in the NRL, but ideally we want to keep as many of them as we can to make our competition stronger.

I know clubs and chief executives have got to look at their projected income and how they are going to balance the books.

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They have a better insight into what sort of shape they are going to be in in 12 or 24 months’ times, so this is just from a player’s point of view, but it would have been a massive and damaging backwards step.

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