The Fiji Bati players have still not been paid more than three months on from the World Cup and over two weeks after their last public statement.
Since then the Fiji National Rugby League had promised to pay Fiji Bati players within 10 to 14 days. Fiji Bati is now stating they have still yet to be paid since making a statement on February 5 and Captain Kevin Naiqama making a second public statement on February 7.
Early February, Fiji Bati players stated: “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,”
“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.”
On February 5 to 8 – FNRL multiple times promised to pay the players within two weeks with Filimoni Vosaroga making the following statement:
“It is envisaged that within the next 10 to 14 days, the players will get their payment”
Kevin Naiqama stated: “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.
“There was a contract we signed that has everything in black-and-white. They were happy to give us 100 percent of the prize money and it’s something we have not received,” he said.
“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.