'Nothing new': NRL boss fires back at 'ill-informed' AFL critics

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Peter V'landys has responded to AFL critics like Eddie McGuire. Image: Getty

Peter V’landys has hit back at criticism from prominent figures in the AFL over the NRL’s bold plans to restart the season on May 28.

The NRL will take the next step toward a May 28 re-start when biosecurity guidelines are explained to players at all 16 clubs on Monday.

They are expected to resume training as early as Tuesday.

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In contrast, the AFL hasn’t even announced when they expect to be back on field, with many believing the league is targeting a return in July.

ARL Commission chairman V’landys has been heavily criticised in recent weeks over the league’s eagerness to get back on the field.

Many believe the NRL’s bold plans fly in the face of what the rest of society is being told.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said last week: “The AFL wants to show social leadership, they don't want to be out like the NRL spruiking different ideas, we're going to be model citizens.”

“I haven’t seen anything that’s impressed me with the NRL at the moment.”

V’landys hits back at AFL critics

However it’s water off a duck’s back for V’landys, who dismissed his AFL critics as ‘ill-informed’.

“I'm used to that sort of rhetoric from Victoria, it’s nothing new for me,” V'landys told The Herald Sun.

"We set ourselves a challenge and a target date. Everyone has got behind it in the rugby league world and if we achieve it, it's an achievement by the game itself.

“So those people (within the AFL) should really have been concentrating on their own business and their own activities without making ill-informed comments about something they know nothing about.”

Outspoken AFL columnist Caroline Wilson was another AFL figure to criticise V’landys last month when he asked the government for financial support.

“At a time when people are falling ill, potentially dying, businesses going under and people losing their jobs, to open the conversation by demanding public money demonstrated a lack of grace,” Wilson said.

“Your behaviour reminded me of those selfish panic merchants who have stripped supermarket shelves and have highlighted the wort of Australia's response to this plague.”

However Richmond coach Damien Hardwick previously praised the ARL boss.

“I really applaud the NRL for their aspirational type leadership of giving a date (May 28),” Hardwick said.

“I love a carrot so to speak, I love a date to work with.

“I think the really challenging aspect for us (AFL) as coaches and players at the moment is we haven't got a date so the motivation of when to start your training to prepare for that date.”

Damien Hardwick speaks to his players during Richmond's opening clash of the 2020 season. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

V’landys confident players won’t muck up again

Meanwhile, V'landys says he’s confident NRL players will adhere to guidelines despite the poor example set by social isolation breaches of high-profile players last week.

“We need to trust our players, and have that confidence in them,” he told Nine Network's Sports Sunday.

“I think they realise the importance, not only are they affecting themselves but they are also affecting the 485 colleagues and the game itself.

“If they do something wrong they jeopardise the whole game, so the consequences are immense.”

V'landys admitted it was a gamble to re-start the NRL with critics claiming it carried a health risk for players and the community.

But he believed the NRL would be protecting the community with its player protocols, citing statistics supplied by their biosecurity expert.

“I'm in the racing industry, so I bet every day. It's a gamble,” said V'landys, who is also Racing NSW CEO.

“(But) we have undertaken one of the greatest risk analyses.

“If they do transgress, it is a one in a thousand chance in the community that they will get the virus.

“If they stay with our biosecurity measures, it is one in 10,000 chance they will get the virus.

“I am not in any way discounting the importance of the coronavirus, but there is one in 10,000 chance you could die of a car accident.

“For a player there is one in 10 million chance that he will die of the coronavirus.”

with AAP