'Much safer': NRL boss blasts 'scaremongering' medical experts

Today show host Karl Stefanovic is pictured in a 50/50 split image next to Peter V'landys.
In a Today show interview with Karl Stefanovic, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys took aim at 'alarmist rhetoric' around Australia's coronavirus response and the league's bid to restart. Pictures: The Today Show

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has accused governments and health officials of using ‘alarmist rhetoric’ and declared players will be safer once the NRL restarts on May 28 in a revealing interview with Karl Stefanovic on the Today show.

The NRL confirmed earlier in the week that they would be resuming competition on the 28th, with teams to be permitted to train from May 4, after being forced to shut down due to the coronavirus early in March.

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V’Landys continues to hold conversations with the NRL’s broadcasters, Channel 9 and Fox Sports, over broadcast arrangements for the disrupted season, but took aim at critics of the plan when asked if the NRL would ‘plough on regardless’ of any criticism from health officials.

“It’s not premature at all, it’s disappointing that people use scaremongering rhetoric when it’s not necessary,” V’landys said.

“Look at the facts - I challenge them to tell us where it’s not safe.

“We have looked at all the data, done enormous research, we’re going to put enormous biosecurity measures in place.

“Our players will be safer under our system than they would be in the community, and the proof is in the pudding.

“We’ve got 485 players, and just with the self-isolation, which is not as strict is what will apply when we re-commence, there hasn’t been one positive.

“I think people have to stop using alarmist language.”

Peter V’Landys rejects criticism of ‘stubborn’ NRL

When Stefanovic put it to V’Landys that the NRL was simply being ‘stubborn’ in their desire to restart competition, the ARLC chair pointed to the falling COVID-19 infection rate as a reason why it was safe to play.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian reported there had been seven new cases of the virus in NSW on Friday morning, as well as announcing an expanded testing regime which now includes anyone with coronavirus symptoms.

“We’ve always said we have to set a target date, look at the data and the facts,” V’Landys said.

“Don’t look at scaremongering and emotional rhetoric, you’ve got to look at the facts.

“The facts are for the last 12 days here in NSW, the infection rate has been less than 1%, and this has been then 14th day 1% or less.

“When we suspended play the infection rate was 25.5%, the health experts then said we could play, so what is the big difference?

“The big difference is it’ll be safer now, and it’ll be safer in five weeks than it ever has been.”