'Categorically not true': NRL's defiant response to Channel Nine spray

Australian Associated Press
·5-min read
Pictured here, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.
Todd Greenberg denies claims Channel Nine wasn't consulted about the competition restarting. Pic: Getty

Todd Greenberg says he is disappointed by last week's attack from Channel Nine and insists broadcasters have been included in discussions over the NRL's proposed restart next month.

The NRL will meet with Nine and their other broadcast partners from Tuesday to determine what structure the league will take in 2020.

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ARLC chairman Peter V'landys will hold talks with Nine chief executive Hugh Marks, and while NRL CEO Greenberg will not join them he will meet with his Foxtel counterpart Patrick Delaney.

In a busy week for the NRL, Greenberg also revealed he planned to have discussions with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard before the Apollo Committee reconvene on Friday.

But he insisted broadcasters had been part of the discussion as the NRL plans for what best suits all parties when the competition resumes on May 28.

"I've heard a couple of times that we have had no consultation with broadcasters. I can tell you categorically that's not true," Greenberg told the Continuous Call Team on Sunday.

"I have met with all three broadcasters in the past two weeks, and that includes Nine, Foxtel and (international rights holder) Sky TV.

"All of them have been in consultation with us the whole way through leading into these Project Apollo meetings and the concept of the structure of the tournament."

Nine's attack came over the what they claimed was a misuse of funds by head office, as well as reported frustration they were not involved in the Project Apollo discussions.

The network have also claimed their television contract had been unfulfilled by the code, and told the stock exchange last week they could save up to $130 million if the NRL was cancelled for 2020.

The scathing appraisal comes at a time when Greenberg's position is under immense pressure, with his contract up at the end of the year.

"I was disappointed in some of those comments that came out from Nine last week," Greenberg said.

"Those discussions I think we should have together behind closed doors.

"The negotiations will get a bit robust and they are already a bit robust.

"What's clear is every business and every business model is under pressure as we are going through this health crisis.

"Revenue is falling in virtually everyone's business. Broadcasters and clubs and players and the game are no different."

Greenberg also defended the game against criticism it was trying to restart too early during the pandemic.

AFL heavyweight Jeff Kennett this weekend claimed the NRL were putting money ahead of player safety in their plans.

"If there are ways you can keep the industry going but ensure the safety of the people in that industry, and the broader public aren't compromised, I think that's a good thing," Greenberg said.

"We won't take any risks along the way (but) I don't think we should be sitting around waiting for someone to tell us when it's right.

"We have got to push our way forward and try and find a way to get the game back on."

NRL legend urges QLD-based players to go south

Maroons great Gorden Tallis is pleading with Queensland's NRL players to move heaven and earth to ensure the competition resumes.

Even if that means moving away from their families.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has made it clear she is not a fan of the NRL restarting on May 28, reminding the Brisbane Broncos, North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans they are not exempt from quarantine laws.

Palaszczuk says players from the three Queensland clubs will not be permitted to travel back and forth to Sydney to play games under current restrictions, declaring they would be subject to 14-days' quarantine any time they return to the Sunshine State.

It means the only way that Brisbane, North Queensland or the Gold Coast could participate in the competition as it is currently envisaged would be if they remain in camp south of the border.

Tallis, who famously sat out the 1996 season in support of Super League and his commitment to the Broncos, said the current-day players must also be prepared to make sacrifices for the greater good of the game.

Pictured here, NRL great Gordon Tallis has urged Queensland-based players to go south.
Gordon Tallis says players need to be prepared to make tough sacrifices for the good of the game. Pic: Getty

"Mate, I'm prepared to drive down to come and sit on the couch (to be on Fox League Live)," Tallis said.

"The players, they've got to do whatever they've got to do to get paid, to make sure the competition goes ahead. Simple as that."

The NRL had hoped interstate teams would be able to travel for games and training using chartered planes.

"They would not meet the criteria (to cross the border)," said Palaszczuk, adding it will be a "long way before lifting restrictions" in Queensland.

"And, secondly, we need to make sure we have clear health advice.

"And I say to all the sporting organisations: let's just take a break. Let's get this 'flattening the curve' under control.

"And then we can talk to the health officers about getting advice. Let's not rush this. Let's take it slowly."