Former PM Scott Morrison responds to bombshell NRL rumour

Scott Morrison is pictured wearing a Cronulla Sharks scarf at an NRL match.
Former prime minister Scott Morrison has knocked back rumous he enquired about a position on the ARL Commission, labelling it 'pub talk'. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has responded to reported rumours he enquired about a potential position on the ARL Commission.

Morrison, who was voted out as prime minister in May but remains a Liberal backbencher for the seat of Cook, dismissed talk of him seeking out a potential opening as 'pub talk'.

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The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday evening that Morrison had enquired about a potential opening on the commission with a 'senior figure' in rugby league recently.

However the 54-year-old was quick to put distance between himself and talk of a potential career switch.

Morrison served as the head of Tourism Australia from 2004 after he was appointed by the then Howard government, but had his contract terminated under controversial circumstances in 2019.

“Sounds to me like just a bit of pub talk,” Morrison said of the reports.

“Love the NRL and my Sharks. PVL (V’landys) and Andrew (Abdo) have done a great job.

"Really enjoyed working with them as PM to get through COVID and to expand the Pacific programme.”

Talk of Morrison walking away from politics to take up a position in rugby league, where he has supported the Cronulla Sharks for some time, caused quite a stir among fans.

However it wasn't just fans who took notice, with former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan telling the Today show the sport would be much better off with the former PM kept well away.

“He’s already got a job. I mean, he’s the member for Cook,” Mr Swan told Today.

“I think he would be far better off following the election defeat just to go quiet for a while and just withdraw.”

Coach's plea for NRL action after nasty tackle

Meanwhile, the NRL has other things on it's plate - such as a potential investigation into 'cannonball' tackles after Liam Knight suffered a season-ending ACL injury from what the South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou said was a "deliberate" act of foul play in the NSW Cup.

Knight would have returned to the first grade side against Newcastle this Friday had he not been targeted by Parramatta's Solomone Naiduki in a cannonball tackle - an illegal move where a player's legs are taken out from behind as he is being held upright by another defender.

The tackle poses serious risk of knee injury and was outlawed by the NRL ahead of the 2014 season.

But prohibiting the cannonball tackle has not eliminated it entirely and the NRL has not always enforced its ban with suspensions. Trent Loiero and Lindsay Collins were cited for cannonball tackles earlier this season but both escaped with fines.

Demetriou said Naiduki's three-week suspension was not an adequate punishment, given the nature of the tackle and the severity of Knight's injury.

South Sydney's Liam Knight will miss the remainder of the NRL season after suffering an ACL tear last weekend. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
South Sydney's Liam Knight will miss the remainder of the NRL season after suffering an ACL tear last weekend. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"There's no accident in that. It's a deliberate act. There's intent," Demetriou said.

"I played the game for a long time, since I was six years old, and never once did I look at a bloke's knees and cannonball him. It's something our game needs to get rid of.

"(Naiduki) misses 10 minutes (in the sin bin) and three weeks and we've got a guy who's out for the season for an act that can be ruled out of our game so easily."

Demetriou said the tackle left Knight "distraught".

"That's the thing we're not taking into account with these types of tackles, there's an emotional toll that the player who gets injured has to take on," he said.

"It's left up to us to help Liam get through this."

With AAP

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