Canberra Raiders forward Joseph Tapine has become the latest player refusing to rule out strike action as collective bargaining agreements between the NRL and rugby league players association continue to drag on.
It's now less than a week until the first game of the pre-season challenge next Thursday, with the New Zealand Warriors to clash with the Wests Tigers to kick things off in Auckland, before a double-header heads to Gosford on Friday.
But that all could yet come crumbling down if a deal isn't finalised.
The original deadline for the deal to be done between the RLPA and NRL was last October ahead of the former CBA expiring, but it has now been three months since that deadline, and negotiations are continuing.
The main sticking points are over the RLPA having a seat at the table in NRL decisions, the women's CBA, including a pregnancy and paternity policy, and the NRL's post-career hardship fund for injuries, surgeries and former players.
While a number of other players have failed to rule out strike action, and some clubs abandoned pre-season media commitments as the first form of protest, Raiders' enforcer Tapine told Fox Sports that nothing is off the table.
“We don't want to get to that stage but everything is on the table at the moment,” Tapine
“It's a bit above my pay grade, I'm just starting my journey in that space (as a delegate) but it's definitely a journey I want to learn more about.
“For me it's about being more involved with what's going on instead of just cruising through life.
“You're not going to be playing footy forever, that's life and sometimes players don't realise it until you're actually out in the wild.
“I just signed this new contract and after it I'll be 33 or 34, so that's a huge focus for the next four to five years, trying to figure out what I'm passionate about away from footy."
Both Tapine and Papalii, who formed the NRL's best prop combination during the second half of 2022 as they dragged the Raiders into the finals with a miraculous finish to the season, said players wanted a seat at the table over the future of the game.
“You can't sit in a company that's not willing to look after you,” Papali'i told the publication.
“You want to do your best and put your best foot forward and we just want to be treated fairly at the end of the day.
“We sacrifice our bodies to entertain the public and not everyone is going to agree with what we're trying to do here, but it's for the players safety and it does make it a better place at the end of the day.
“But if the NRL don't see it that way then like other players have said, nothing is off the table and all players are on the same page.”
Strike action by NRL players would be the first time Australian sport has experienced a 'lockout' type event - something that has happened with all too much regularity in the United States.