Queensland Premier’s blunt demand for NRL restart
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has asked the NRL to send her justification as to why rugby league should be allowed to return next month.
The NRL's Project Apollo committee, tasked with finding a way for players to get back on the field, has pinpointed May 28 as the day the season will resume after it was suspended two rounds in because of coronavirus.
It's hoped teams will be allowed to train from May 4 but while the NRL has been bullish about getting back to normal service as soon as possible, primarily to limit the catastrophic financial fallout of the season being interrupted, there have been few specific details about how the league plans to carry on.
The Queensland government has enacted movement restrictions during the coronavirus threat in which there is a mandatory 14-day isolation period for anyone allowed entry.
Strict social distancing measures and state border closures are still in place and while the idea of quarantining teams in one area has been thrown up, nothing concrete has been signed off on by head office, which is still in talks with broadcasters Nine and Foxtel about what the reshaped season will look like.
Palaszczuk said she has so far not heard from the NRL - which has three teams in Queensland - about how it plans to adhere to social distancing measures and comply with border closures. She has called on league bosses to provide her and Queensland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeannette Young with its plan of action if it wants to schedule games again.
"There is no detailed plan. I call on the NRL to submit that detailed plan and I will immediately forward it to Dr Young for her consideration and to report back to me," Palaszczuk said, per the Courier Mail.
"I'm saying to the NRL, send the detailed plan, send all of your health information, send how it's all going to work.
"Put it in a detailed plan and I'm more than happy to forward it to Dr Young. Dr Young has said today she's more than happy to consider it.
"I think they've been dealing with the NSW Government and I think they need to submit it to all other governments that have NRL teams.
"If everyone can just wait until we get the detailed plans and let Dr Young consider it … the sooner they get it in the better it will be."
Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys has said he plans to speak with the Premier in coming weeks about the NRL's plan.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said on 2GB radio today getting the NRL back into gear is a "very important part of the next steps that we take to normalise and return back to the way that we knew life only a few months ago".
He also called on Palaszczuk to clarify whether Queensland would facilitate the NRL's return, after earlier this month she cast doubt over whether any State of Origin matches would be played in her state this year.
On Wednesday, Project Apollo spokesman Wayne Pearce reaffirmed the NRL's commitment to resume on May 28 and said the NRL has "permission from the government … provided we adhere to the public health guidelines".
He also said the league is "working with governments" in regards to travel arrangements for teams, referencing the complications facing the New Zealand Warriors, who have unanswered questions about what hoops they will need to jump through given Australia's border lockdown and the need for overseas arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks.
FITTLER HITS OUT
Brad Fittler believes former NRL CEO Todd Greenberg can walk away with his head held high, saying "incredible" club spending contributed to the game's financial plight exposed by the coronavirus crisis.
After months of speculation that he was losing support, broadcast partner Channel 9's explosive attack, accusing the NRL of mismanagement, appeared to be a catalyst for Greenberg 's resignation on Monday.
But NSW coach Fittler said "impatient" clubs should have been held accountable before the finger was pointed at Greenberg over the NRL's precarious financial position during the pandemic shutdown.
"We manage to eat our own in this game and we just don't stop," Fittler told 2GB Radio.
"You've got to say, (Greenberg) has been held accountable for the whole finance of the game and what everyone looked back and thought was quite poor running of the game.
"When you look at the clubs and the amount of money wasted on their CEOs and their bosses going in and out of the clubs, it's incredible.
"The amount of wastage we have in this game. There's an absolute lack of patience going on at the moment."
Fittler's comments come days after The Daily Telegraph revealed NRL clubs had lost a combined $31 million in 2019 despite annual grants from the governing body from the lucrative broadcast agreement.
That report also claimed there had been 100 different CEOs and chairs in the last five years among the clubs, contributing to excessive spending.
Fittler felt for Greenberg, saying the former NRL boss should be proud of what he achieved during his four-year tenure.
"I think everyone would agree that Todd's always stood up and he's answered all the big questions," he said.
"I think the finances of the game have been what tipped him over the edge, but there's some things that he's done (that have been) fantastic.
"The growth of the women's game has been on his watch and I think that's probably been the most exciting thing that's happened in footy in the last couple of years.
"He can walk away with his head held high."
Originally published as Premier's blunt demand for NRL restart