6 Feb 2018

Sport: Fiji NRL admits Bati players still unpaid

2:43 pm on 6 February 2018

Fiji National Rugby League admits players are still yet to be paid their share of prize-money from last year's World Cup.

The Bati reached the semi finals of last year's tournament in Australia and New Zealand and produced one of the great World Cup performances to beat the Kiwis in their own backyard, their first ever victory over a tier one nation.

Fiji celebrate their quarter final victory over the Kiwis.

Fiji celebrate their quarter final victory over the Kiwis. Photo: Photosport

Rugby League World Cup officials confirmed to AAP that $AU125,000 of prize money had been made to Fiji officials but three months on the players are still waiting for their reward.

Fiji NRL Chief Executive Officer Timoci Naleba understood the figure to be $AU100,000 and said officials are urgently trying to resolve the matter.

"I've just received confirmation from NRL yesterday, confirming the arrangement was for the money to be directly dispersed to the players' account by NRL and the World Cup," he said.

"So yesterday (Monday) NRL confirmed that they can't not do that. There's going to be a lot legal implication if we are to disperse the money so the option is to open a Fiji NRL account in Australia."

Timoci Naleba said the Fiji NRL had an agreement with the players no money would be sent to Fiji "but once we have the share from the World Cup it's going to be dispersed in Australia by the NRL so we kept that side of the bargain.

"But unfortunately now we have NRL coming back saying there will be legal implications and we have to get an account in Australia...since yesterday we have been told that to be able to set up an account and all that will take another two weeks."

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Mr Naleba has seen a copy of a statement believed to be from the players, threatening to boycott future internationals until they are paid for their performances.

He said it was unclear the statement was genuinely from all the players but he had received some inquiries from members of the Bati squad.

"I received a phone-call two to three weeks ago from the player and explained to him we've got the money with the NRL. The money was not sent to Fiji - everything stayed in Australia - and the manager of the Fiji Bati team would be contacting them directly to actually inform them of the progress."

Mr Naleba said the Fiji NRL was attempting to contact players via phone, email and Facebook but acknowledged the team manager bore some fault for the breakdown in communications.

He was confident players will still have it in their hearts to play for Fiji and said the FNRL spent more money in last year's World Cup (more than one million dollars) than ever before.

Fiji's Jarryd Hayne celebrates with fans after Fiji's win over the Kiwis

Fiji's Jarryd Hayne celebrates with fans after Fiji's win over the Kiwis Photo: Photosport

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