‘Angry and confused’ players want respect as Beattie backs V’landys

The boss of the Rugby League Players Association claims the game’s stars are “frustrated, angry, confused and concerned” about the direction of the code but stopped short of declaring the players’ union wanted to oust Peter V’landys.

A day after The Sun-Herald revealed leading players had discussed ways of removing V’landys, former Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Premier Beattie came out swinging in support of his successor amid heightening tension with the game’s stars.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and RLPA chief Clint Newton.Credit:Janie Barrett, Getty

“All the feelings of the players are real. They’re frustrated, angry, confused, concerned. There are various levels of anxiety around certain things. They’re all real. They’re not made up. There’s an opportunity to take on board that and put some things in place which will create opportunity for change, or not.”

Any move to oust V’landys seems unlikely given the RLPA has no voting rights under the ARLC constitution.

But the constitution was amended earlier this year with only a majority of the 16 NRL clubs and two states required to remove a director. Previously, 15 of the 16 clubs needed to be in support of such a move as well as both the NSW Rugby League and Queensland Rugby League.

Questions over V’landys’ future come almost a year to day since he was universally praised for ensuring the NRL was the first professional sport in Australia to return to the field after the COVID-19 suspension. His term was extended for a further three years late in 2020.

‘This is a fight about the future of rugby league, this is guaranteeing its future.’

“He has the unanimous support of all the commissioners and he’s taking rugby league into the 21st century and beyond,” Beattie said. “We need to do that, it’s a pretty competitive world out there.

“He’s a very good leader and I’m sure the players can go and talk to him. He is the most accessible leader and his heart is in rugby league. It’s a very competitive and ugly business because there are all sorts of challenges in the game.

“I think he’s the best leader rugby league has ever had. He’s got a vision, he’s got passion and he wants to do the right thing. It’s inspiring to have a leader like that.”

Players were particularly aggrieved with an NRL press release a fortnight ago citing key metrics it believed showed they weren’t more fatigued than in previous seasons, despite protests the game was becoming too quick and taxing, causing increased injury rates.

V’landys drove through a number of rule changes this season to help speed up the game, including six-again calls for offside infringements and reducing the amount of scrums.

But the one which has caused most angst has been the high-tackle edict, which V’landys argued was imperative to ensure the health and safety of players. Roosters star Luke Keary told SEN last week the way it was introduced without consultation from coaches, players and referees was “so wrong”.

“This is a fight about the future of rugby league, this is guaranteeing its future,” Beattie said. “Peter consults widely on these things, but not everyone is going to agree. That’s a fact.

“If people have got concerns, they should ring him and talk to him. He is the most accessible person. [The players] can just go and talk to Peter and [NRL chief executive] Andrew [Abdo].”

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