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'It would hurt themselves': Players warn referees over industrial action

NRL stars have warned that industrial action by referees would be damaging to the game but are confident the season will resume as scheduled next week.

The NRL and the Professional Rugby League Match Officials will attend an arbitration hearing on Thursday after a mediation session with the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday failed to resolve a dispute over the return to one referee.

The PRLMO are opposed to the ARLC's decision last week to scrap the two-referee system that has been in place in the NRL since 2008 and introduce the new "six again" rule in place of a penalty for a ruck infringement.

NRL players also wanted the two-referee system retained but now that the change has been made they believe attempts by the PRLMO to overturn it will not benefit anyone.

"That would definitely hurt the game. I think it would hurt us and it would hurt themselves," St George Illawarra halfback Ben Hunt said about the possibility of industrial action holding up the resumption of the competition.

Bulldogs winger Nick Meaney said: "That is not what we need right now but hopefully they come to and we can get back out there."

Hunt worried about Origin selection

Players from each of the 16 NRL clubs have been back in training for two weeks and details of the opening two rounds have been announced, along with the six venues teams will play at for the first seven weeks of the rebooted competition.

The NRL is close to finalising a draw for the remaining 14 rounds, as well as finals and State of Origin in November, while negotiations with broadcaster are also nearing a conclusion.

The PRLMO insist that referees won't strike but it is unclear whether the dispute will be resolved before the May 28 clash between Brisbane and Parramata.

"It would be pretty disappointing if it did get held up but I am sure there would be someone who would be willing to referee a game of NRL," Cowboys hooker Jake Granville said.

"As long as someone is there we will do all of our preparation from Monday and we will get it going next week."

Hunt also expects the season to resume as scheduled.

"I think the NRL, and [ARLC chairman] Peter V'landys mostly, has done a hell of a job to get this game back going and I don't think a few refs striking is going to stop him," Hunt said.

"He is pretty determined that we are going to get the game going so he will find a way around it."

Granville keen to take advantage of rule changes

Asked about the possibility of referees without NRL experience controlling matches, Hunt said players would be willing to accept that.

"Obviously it would have a bit of an effect on the game but they are going to be refereeing each side the same so we have got to adapt to those refs. They are going to be the same rules," he said.

"They probably aren't going to be first class referees but they will be second best and they will be working their way towards that so we will just have to handle it as it comes."

Acknowledgement of Country

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