New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has taken an angry swipe at Albury council's ban on Melbourne Storm using their training facilities.
Unable to train together in Victoria due to government restrictions, Storm were planning to use Albury's Greenfield Park, the town's major local rugby league ground, which also hosted a Super Rugby trial earlier this year.
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But on Tuesday evening at an extraordinary meeting, Albury City councillors voted 5-4 against them using any facilities they managed.
The Storm activated their backup plan and will train on Albury Sports Ground, a non-council managed facility, which hosts the Albury Tigers Australian rules and cricket clubs.
Speaking on 2GB's Wide World of Sports Radio, NRL great Fittler said he "cannot believe" Albury's stance and suggested that NRL identities needed to visit the southern NSW city and "spread the love" of the game.
Fittler questioned what right the local council had to deny the Storm, when the state and federal government had given the NRL the green light to proceed.
"Border control thought it was okay to let the (NZ) Warriors go in, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's had his say and he's allowed rugby league to tentatively go forward, we've got the NSW Premier Gladys (Berejiklian), she's allowed it to go forward as well as the Queensland Premier now, but for some reason there's a couple of people in Albury that don't think it's a good idea to have you running around on your footy field," Fittler said.
Albury council's refusal to allow the Storm to use their facilities came after a quartet of NRL stars, including Josh Addo-Carr from Melbourne, were sanctioned for breaching social distancing rules.
The council said it had listened to locals and was determined to put the safety of its community above all else, with deputy mayor doctor Amanda Cohn telling The Australian that even under strict health protocols, NRL players "have a reputation for breaking rules".
NSW coach slams ‘childish’ Albury criticism
Fittler labelled the comments "childish" and suggested of all 16 NRL clubs, the Storm had a reputation as one of the most professional.
"It was a bit childish by one of the councilors to come out and say rugby league players have a reputation of not following rules. Seriously, I think that was a bit unnecessary," he said.
"She criticised rugby league players. How do you criticise Melbourne? Josh Addo-Carr did some silly things up in NSW, but Melbourne are the epitome of professionalism and getting it right, and their results prove it. I didn't think her remarks were great."
The Blues coach said above all else, the Storm's use of Albury as a training base represented a massive financial boost for the local economy.
"Imagine the hotels, and obviously they've got to buy a lot of food," he said.
"We've been doing that bike ride where we go all around NSW for the last seven years, the joint has been in a drought for seven years.
"There's just been drama forever and to just brush people aside like they did, I just found it very immature."