‘Super confident’ V’landys takes on critics of May 28 return
Peter V'landys has dubbed criticism of rugby league's May 28 return date as "scaremongering", with the ARLC Chairman convinced the coronavirus could almost be eradicated in Australia by the time NRL competition resumes.
Only a day after receiving heavyweight backing from NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, V'landys has told The Daily Telegraph he remains "super confident" of restarting the 2020 NRL season in seven weeks time.
The chairman's comments come amid growing calls to delay the season, with both Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard using separate media opportunities on Monday to question the May comeback.
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Quizzed on the criticism surrounding rugby league's proposed revival, V'landys said: "I realise there are people who will come out and scaremonger.
"Critics who will say 'oh, why is the NRL doing this?'.
"But where are their figures that show us putting anyone at risk?
"Where are they?
"All these people criticising, the mistake they're making is talking as if we are starting up rugby league again tomorrow.
"We're starting up again in seven weeks.
"And in that time a lot is going to change.
"If the infection rate continues to slide, if it gets to, say, 0.1 per cent, are we not going to play?"
V'landys added that when the NRL shut down only three weeks ago, the infection rate was at 23.5 per cent.
"And the reason we stopped was because our expert told us that rate would increase dramatically from there," he said.
"But it didn't.
"In fact, the infection rate now is 1.5 per cent and sliding down.
"So you have to put these things into perspective.
"Naturally we'll do a massive risk analysis to ensure we don't put our players or the community at risk.
"And we've got seven weeks to do that."
Asked if he remained confident of a May 28 return, the chairman said: "If the infection rate continues to decrease I'm super confident.
"Obviously if it spikes back up, we can be agile and make changes.
"But I don't think it will.
"Because the majority of these cases have come from overseas travellers or the cruise liners, and all that has stopped.
"But again, I want to stress this is all part of a road map.
"If the infection rates were to spikes again, we're agile. We can change the date.
"But if you look at the infection rate now … in seven weeks it should nearly be eradicated at this rate.
"And if it is, what happens if we've just sat there and done nothing?"
Asked about the NRL's return on Monday, Colbeck told ABC Radio: "I think it's a bit ambitious to be frank.
"If you consider the advice we are still getting from people like (Australian chief medical officer) Brendan Murphy … they're the people who I think should be providing advice on these things.
"I'm one of those that would like to see a kick-off occur as soon as possible … (and) once the health authorities give us the signal that we can start to relax some of those things then we start considering that, but not before."
Asked about the comments, V'landys replied: "I agree with him that it's ambitious.
"And we have to be ambitious.
"It's no good us sitting back and doing nothing.
"If we weren't ambitious, we'd be letting down our players and fans.
"Right now, all the players are following our self-isolation procedures and we haven't had one positive test.
"Yes it's a contact sport.
"But if we test them and they are all negative, if we implement all the biosecurity measures possible to keep them negative, why not play?
"We've got them all negative at the moment, and that's with nowhere near the biosecurity measures that will be put into place when we recommence."
Originally published as 'Super confident' V'landys takes on critics of May 28 return