NRL Rd 23 - Panthers v Rabbitohs
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers is tackled by Cameron Murray of the Rabbitohs during the round 23 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium, on August 20, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Penrith Panthers halfback and RLPA delegate Nathan Cleary is adamant that player strikes are still on the cards if the CBA dramas aren't sorted before the season starts.

While Cleary is supposed to be preparing for his maiden World Club Challenge, one of the last feats for the halfback to accomplish in the game, the 25-year-old is instead focused on fighting for what's fair.

The NRL and RLPA came to a financial agreement over the NRLW's CBA earlier in the week, however, the men's competition is yet to reach the same level of discussion, despite parachuting in lead negotiator Brett Clegg late last week.

Now under a fortnight until Round 1 kicks off, industrial action is on the cards if the two parties can't reach a middle ground, although Cleary is confident a deal will be done before Parramatta meet Melbourne on March 2nd.

“We're prepared to sit out games. It's obviously not something we want to do (because) it's robbing the fans of what they want to see,” Cleary told Fox Sports.

“In saying that, it's something we're prepared to do to get our fair share.

Australia v Scotland: Rugby League World Cup
COVENTRY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Nathan Cleary of Australia looks to pass during Rugby League World Cup 2021 Pool B match between Australia and Scotland at The Coventry Building Society Arena on October 21, 2022 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

“I think it's just about the NRL coming to the party and wanting to find that middle ground where we can have that fair share. At the moment, unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet so we'll have to wait and see.”

Cleary isn't inside the room during negotiations, however, insists the players won't just lie down and cop it.

“I'm not in on the inside of the negotiations, but I think it will be (sorted within a fortnight),” Cleary continued.

“I don't think anyone from our side or the NRL's side wants there to be no games, so hopefully we can come to an agreement. In saying that, we're not just going to roll over and fall down to what the NRL wants.”

Cleary will run out with an under-strength Penrith outfit on Saturday against St Helens, with the back-to-back premiers without Dylan Edwards, Liam Martin, Scott Sorensen and Soni Luke for the clash.