RLPA chief Clint Newton has been blasted on live radio in a fiery exchange with veteran league journalist Paul Kent over reports a faction of the game’s leading players are considering a coup to overthrow Peter V’landys.
In an explosive column published today, veteran league 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.”
“Some leading players have expressed their concerns to me, saying they want V’landys to stand down and concentrate on his role as the chief executive of Racing NSW in a full-time capacity,” Weidler wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Appearing on Triple M Radio this afternoon, Newton looked to downplay the conviction of the report, but things took a fiery turn when Kent challenged the RLPA boss over his “corporate spruiking”.
NEWTON: “I think it’s [the report] an extremely big speculative comment. At the end of the day, I’m not about overthrowing people. The players are not wanting to control the game. We are about securing the best outcomes for the game, players, clubs and fans.
“This isn’t about any one person’s view. It is my job to take forward the collective view and that’s what we plan to do. We need to bring this back into focus.”
KENT: “If you’re about securing best outcomes, why would you want V’landys removed?”
NEWTON: “That’s the whole point, Paul, that’s been said but not what we need to focus on.
“This is about working through a process and ensuring we have a genuine and respectful opportunity to have dialogue in advance of any suggestive changes.
“This isn’t about any one particular decision, we’ve got to this point really, and it all goes away if there is a chance to communicate and engage with us more respectfully and listen to players.”
KENT: “How many more weeks while you sat down and went through the process of meetings and all that? how many more weeks were the players prepared to cop concussions while you sat down and negotiated what was always going to be the outcome, that you’re not allowed to tackle high.”
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NEWTON: “You’ve just taken it back to there, as we said it’s not about one decision.”
KENT: “But this is what’s driving it.”
NEWTON: “Let me speak, I know you’re on radio.”
KENT: “Don’t talk to me like that, Clint, don’t talk to me like that.”
NEWTON: “Paul, we’ve had this conversation before about you not allowing people to speak.”
KENT: “Just answer the question instead of this corporate gobbly-goop that you’re spruiking. Tell us in real terms what the problem is?”
NEWTON: “This is the problem Paul, emotion takes control, like you are right now. Let me speak and then we can work through it.”
KENT: “Well say something, don’t sit there and say all this stuff that people need a manual to figure out what you’re saying.”
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NEWTON: “The players absolutely appreciate the concern on their health and safety and policy enforcement…but this isn’t about that. So, let’s not misrepresent the situation that this is about the crackdown. It’s not. The players are frustrated at the moment and we’ve made that clear to the NRL.
“We shouldn’t be here speaking about this right now. We’ve got an opportunity to improve what is currently going on and allow the players to have a voice and be engaged about what’s going on up front. To be involved in the conversations where decisions are made that impact on them.
“How you’re behaving at the moment is not where we need to be.”
KENT: “I’m not going to let you go and say these rubbish comments that go uncontested. If I want to interrupt, I’ll interrupt when you say something that’s rubbish. We don’t want to go around in circles with answers that don’t say anything.
“Your own players, whether you’ve lost control of these guys I don’t know, but the fact is your own players seem to be pumping out messages that you’re now refuting. You say it’s not about the crackdown, Luke Keary said on radio that it was.”
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Responding to the direct question ‘Do the players want V’landys to step down?’, Newton was firm.
“That’s not my understanding, my understanding is that players want change in how things are being worked through,” he said.
“Players want an improved process that allows them to feel properly respected, and that’s what we’re going to work through with the NRL. I’ve spoken to Peter and Andrew about that.”
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