Peter V'Landys pictured in his Sydney office boardroom.
Peter V'Landys pictured in his Sydney office boardroom.

NRL boss has cheeky dig at the AFL

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys has admitted he found the AFL's frantic discourse on isolation "bubbles" during the coronavirus lockdown amusing.

V'landys copped heavy criticism from the sporting community for persistently pushing to bring the NRL back during a global health crisis, but his bold proclamation that rugby league would return in late May has proved a masterstroke.

The NRL is shaping to be first professional team-based competition in Australia to return from the coronavirus lockdown, two weeks earlier than the AFL.

After the NRL announced a return date of May 28th last month, the AFL community continued debating whether isolation bubbles would be required for the premiership to get back underway.

Players and fans seemingly argued for weeks about the consequences of such drastic measures, but as the coronavirus restrictions gradually lifted across the country, discussion on the matter eradicated.

On Friday, V'landys made a cheeky jab at the AFL, claiming he "had a giggle" while the footy community frantically argued about bubbles.

"At times I've looked at them and had a giggle," V'landys told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The first thing I said to Wayne Pearce, who heads Project Apollo, is that we won't be using 'bubbles'. We'll just need self-isolation - and I was right.

Peter Peter V'landys at Rugby League Central in Sydney on Friday.
Peter Peter V'landys at Rugby League Central in Sydney on Friday.

"Three weeks later, the AFL was still looking at bubbles. But no, I was more worried about us and making sure my predictions were the right ones.

"I said, nine weeks ago, that we could train in Victoria and Queensland - at that stage we couldn't. I said the Warriors could come over - at that stage we couldn't."

V'landys believed it could have been possible to keep the NRL running amid the coronavirus epidemic, but conceded the PR backlash would have been "difficult" to ignore.

"Public relations-wise, it would've been difficult," V'landys said.

"People would've asked, 'Why is rugby league still going and we're not?' It would've been a nightmare, along with the closure of the borders.

"But racing proved you can do it properly if you follow the correct biosecurity measures.

"People say players are spitting all over each other. But if they're all negative, what does it matter?"

The NRL premiership recommences on Thursday with a clash between undefeated clubs Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Originally published as NRL boss' cheeky dig at the AFL