RLPA boss Clint Newton will reportedly seek to set up a meeting with Peter V’landys in the coming days to “soothe tensions” following explosive reports that a faction of the game’s leading players are looking to have the NRL boss overthrown.
But in further damning evidence for the league administrator, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Andrew Webster has revealed certain players had personally asked him how they would go about removing V’landys from office.
The saga was ignited by a column published in The Sun Herald, in which Nine NRL reporter Danny Weidler revealed that a number of the game’s high-profile stars had been left fuming with the league’s crackdown on foul play and were “furious that they were not consulted on a host of recent changes that have altered the way the game is played.”
Newton looked to downplay the conviction of the report when he took to radio on Sunday afternoon which quickly turned into a fiery on-air debate between him and certain media figures.
While talk of an all-out coup doesn’t appear to have gotten off the ground, Webster corroborated Weidler’s initial claims after conversations he’d held with several leading players.
“It’s not the RLPA that’s at war with Peter V’landys, or who is disgruntled as much as a couple of senior players,” Webster told Nine’s 100% Footy.
“Danny’s column yesterday lines up with some conversations I’ve had with a few senior players late last week, who didn’t so much as say they wanted him gone, but they were basically asking me how the constitution works. So, if they wanted to remove him, how would that happen?
“For me, that just shows you the level of dissatisfaction among the playing group with not just the head-high tackle crackdown but also some of the decisions and lack of consultation coming out of head office.
“There is a level of dissatisfaction there between head office and its most important asset, the players.
“Clint Newton from the RLPA is trying to set up a meeting with Peter V’landys in the next couple days to try and soothe the tensions in those two camps.”
At the centre of tensions is a perception among the players’ group that they haven’t been appropriately consulted around the big decisions in the game, and apparent unwillingness to listen on the NRL’s behalf to any criticism.
“The RLPA is their union and they’ve expressed their frustration a number of times through their union. And I think the union is getting frustrated not getting heard,” Webster said.
“To be perfectly honest, the NRL is just a big spin machine at the moment. They are just protecting themselves and trying to protect [against] any criticism that comes their way.
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“I’ve been butting heads with Abdo and V’landys all season long. Anytime, you make any valid argument, whether you’re a player, a journalist a fan, anyone at all, particularly because of this head-high crackdown, it gets thrown back in your face as if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
“Just because V’landys got the game back on track last year, it doesn’t give him a free card to do whatever he wants from now on in.”
It’s a view shared by NRL guru Phil Gould.
“No one is listening, mate. The only thing they’re using their ears for is holding up their sunglasses. Until people are prepared to listen, this is not going to get resolved.”
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