Fiji Bati stars threaten boycott over World Cup prize money

Fiji’s World Cup stars have threatened to boycott the Bati’s next Test and have called for changes to the management of the nation’s governing body over outstanding payments from the tournament.

An email circulated on Monday “on behalf of the Fiji Bati playing squad from the 2017 RLWC” said the players had resorted to the drastic action after becoming frustrated by attempts to obtain their share of the $125,000 prize money for qualifying for the semi-final against Australia on November 24.

The prize money and Fiji’s participation fee for the World Cup was paid by RLWC2017 on December 22 but the players are yet to receive the money promised to them by the Fiji National Rugby League.

“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 email said.

“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.”

FNRL chief executive Timoci Naleba told NRL.com his organisation was not responsible for the payment of Bati players. 

“The initial agreement was for players to have World Cup prize money shares distributed by the NRL and World Cup, not FNRL,” he said.

“FNRL has honoured its part of the bargain and has authorised NRL to disburse the funds once it receives the money.”

The dispute is a bitter end to a successful World Cup campaign under coach Mick Potter, in which the Bati recorded their first win against a tier-one nation when they beat New Zealand 4-2 in Wellington to qualify for a third successive semi-final.

Among the Bati’s NRL stars were captain Kevin Naiqama, Jarryd Hayne, Ashton Sims, Akuila Uate, Apisai Koroisau and Suliasi Vunivalu.

The RLPA is monitoring the situation and believes players from other nations have received payments owed to them for playing at the World Cup. 

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