Fitzy, NRL boss butt heads on air

Former Wallaby turned journalist Peter FitzSimons has put ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys on the hot seat over the NRL’s return to action this month.

V’landys joined Channel 9’s Sports Sunday program to discuss the league getting back underway and was questioned on how the public can trust the players following the latest indiscretions.

“We need to trust our players and I have confidence in them,” V’landys said.

“I think they realise the importance. Not only are they affecting themselves, but they are affecting their 485 colleagues and the game itself.

“If they do something wrong they put the whole game at risk, so the consequences are immense.”

As the coronavirus pandemic still hangs overhead, questions have been raised over the NRL setting a date for its season return. But V’landys says with the protocols in place, the chances of a player being infected is extremely low.

“You have to put it in perspective if they do transgress it is a one in 1000 chance that they will get the virus,” V’landys said.

“If they stay with our biosecurity measures it is one in 10,000 chance they will get the virus, so just because they transgress doesn’t necessarily mean they will catch the virus.

“The virus infection rate at the moment is extremely low, so they have to be in a very bad place for them to catch it.”

V’landys is confident the players are safer following their security measures.Source:Getty Images

It was then FitzSimons jumped in and asked if a player was to return a positive test, would that spell the end of V’landys run as the man in charge at the ARLC.

Peter FitzSimons: “Are you betting your career on this? You’re the one who has pushed this harder than anybody. You’re saying it’s a 1 in 10,000 chance and we can trust the players. If there was a positive, would you resign?”

Peter V’landys: “Look, it depends on the circumstances. I’m in the racing industry so I bet every day, it’s a gamble. But you’re right Pete, the thing is this is a risk analysis and we have undertaken one of the greatest risk analysis’ there is.”

“As I said, it’s a 1 in 10,000 chance of them catching the virus. I’m not in any which way discounting the importance of the coronavirus, but there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance that you could die from a car accident. A player, there’s a 1 in 10,000,000 chance that he will die from the coronavirus.

“The risk analysis, we’ve always put the player first and the community first in everything we have done. If I can just say this Pete, when we stopped play the infection rate was 25.1 per cent, for the last 21 days it’s been less than 1 per cent. The aim is to get it to zero per cent. The recovery rate for the virus in Australia is 85 per cent, there’s only 27 beds being used out of 1020. All the facts and all the analysis show that the risk is minimal to zero.”

P.F: “May I respectfully submit that while you liken it to a car accident, the chances of a car accident, the difference with coronavirus as we’ve seen with the aged care facility in Western Sydney that has lost 13 people from one infection that this is not just a car accident that the risk is that the whole thing spreads a lot wider, do you accept that?”

P.V: “The coronavirus is very contagious there’s no doubt about that, but our biosecurity measures we’ve got one of the best biosecurity professor’s in the world undertaking this exercise. He specialises in biochemical and biological weapons, so he assures us that it is a 1 in 10,000 chance to catch the virus if they abide by security measures. The risk to the community is zero, the risk to a nursing home is zero. Our players will be safer being under our biosecurity measures as they would be if we left them in the normal community. There’s a 1 in 1000 chance in the normal community, a 1 in 10,000 chance if they abide by our security measures. We’re actually protecting our players by having them under our conditions.

P.F: “Here’s my last question, is it a condition of your players that they download the app or they don’t take the field?”

P.V: “We’re going to discuss that with the players, everything is done with consultation. They’ve got an education day on Monday, they will go through all of that. It’s important that they download the app because that’s our best protection. They’ve got a lot of other things they have to do, they have some great responsibility and tomorrow they will go through that and I’m sure they will all feel comfortable and move forward.”

P.F: “Can I just suggest that given you’re putting at risk the public health, it’s ipso facto you’ve got to get everyone of them, the people that are involved in the NRL to download the app or don’t take part at all.”

How can the general public trust #NRL players to do the right thing?

Peter V'landys responds to the critics.

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V’landys remains confident the return date of May 28 will go ahead after getting a big tick of approval from both the state and federal government.

“We set a target date very early and we knew there was a lot of hurdles to overcome and basically we are just getting there,” V’landys said.

“The hardest one was the government and the fact that we have got both the Federal and State government approvals for the Warriors and Queensland to allow our players to train they are big steps.

“Now I’m very confident that we will be able to start on the 28th of May.”

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