The NRL playing group could collectively decide to take protest action during the week of the new pre-season challenge this weekend.
The trials, which will be played as part of the newly-named competition and have $100,000 in prizemoney available to the winning team on top of a new scoring system on the ladder which will encourage attacking rugby league, could be hit hard this weekend.
While it's understood games are still set to go ahead, The Sydney Morning Herald are reporting that players could take steps to make their protest against the NRL clear, with negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement continuing.
The publication reports that kick-off to games could be delayed, NRL logos on jerseys will be covered up, and players could refuse to do media with any attending games in the first steps of their protest.
It's understood the RLPA are threatening to take the actions and have sent a communication to all players suggesting so on Wednesday should a breakthrough not be made before kick-off between the New Zealand Warriors and Wests Tigers on Thursday evening in Auckland - the match is scheduled to start at 6pm (AEDT) - 8pm (local time).
The threat comes with the continuing potential of a player strike lingering over the competition, which has been brought on by the stalemate in negotiations over the CBA.
The NRL and RLPA have failed to cede any ground and are at loggerheads over a number of key issues, including the post-retirement hardship and injury fund, finances of the women's game, the salary cap, and whether the RLPA should be able to manage its own finances.
While strike action will be a last resort, it hasn't been ruled out, and the chance of it seems to grow with each passing day an agreement isn't signed.
The NRL announced a record increase to the men's and women's salary cap before Christmas without the CBA officially being signed off, but the RLPA trashed it on the same day.
While the Thursday deadline will decide whether the first weekend of trials are disrupted, this is a severe escalation of previous steps, with players refusing to do NRL media opportunities in recent weeks.
The report comes after Parramatta forward Shaun Lane commented on Tuesday that a strike wasn't off the table.
“I think everyone's hopeful of a resolution soon but, whether it's realistic or not, I'm not too sure,” Lane told AAP on Tuesday.
“It's dragged on for way too long. It should have been handled six months ago and obviously it's heading to a time where some action may need to be taken in order to finally resolve the conflict and get what we need to get out of this bargain."