V’landys pledges to fix the NRL
He is now the most powerful man in Australian sport. And best of all for long suffering rugby league fans, Peter V'landys not only has a reputation as a leader who talks tough, but a bloke who backs it up with action.
And in his first public appearance as the new Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, the Greek migrant who came to Australia on a boat as a four-year-old not only got the name of the current Australian captain Boyd Cordner right, but V'landys pulled no punches on just about every controversial topic.
Not only conceding that refereeing was currently the biggest problem facing the game, V'landys vowed to fix it.
"Being from the racing industry there is one thing that I have learnt, punters or fans don't like to be ripped off," V'landys said.
"You can't have them walk away thinking that they have been ripped off."
He said he and the other commissioners had been briefed in the last two days and change was coming, not just in respect to the refs but also the under siege judiciary system.
"In the next few months we will make some announcements in that regard, how we are going to improve it moving forward," he said.
"It was a great year for rugby league. The only thing that let us down was some of the decisions."
On top of that, he promised to start "tomorrow" on using his extensive government contacts to get more funding to redevelop old suburban grounds like Brookvale Oval, while also guaranteeing the future of every current NSW and Queensland club.
"There will be no team in Sydney or Queensland that will be relocated," he said.
"If we pursue expansion it will be a new franchise, and I can tell you that every brand of club in Sydney and Queensland is secure. We are not looking to relocate anyone."
He said finally bringing Brookvale into the 21st century had to be a priority.
"I am glad you raised Brookvale Oval because that is the first ground I will be concentrating (on),' V'landys added.
He said that he had already held talks with the NSW treasurer and that there were "buckets of money" available.
"That is one of my seven priorities and you can sit here in 12 months and hold me accountable," he said.
V'landys also "absolutely" guaranteed the game would get more revenue from its next broadcast deal while pledging to breathe life back into bush footy and grassroots development.
"The AFL has certainly made inroads in country NSW," V'landys, who grew up playing country footy in Wollongong, said.
"But when I was young guy the group grand final were the real big aspect of the game. And they don't seem to have the same prominence that they had, and there is teams now that even aren't in existence.
"We need to get them back into existence. We need to get participation levels up in these country areas and get them back to the days when they used to get 10,000 at a grand final, when a first grade player from Sydney would go and become the captain coach … that is what we want to do. We want to get country moving again."
And the most wonderful thing about it all is that the new boss of rugby league has a proven track record of getting the job done.
So while he also publicly backed Todd Greenberg to stay on as the chief executive of the game, with Greenberg's current contract nearing its end, that support came with a direct warning.
"One thing Todd realises and most people realise is I call a spade a spade," V'landys said.
"Some people don't like it, some people do like it. Some people like being forthright. But I am not going to be talking behind people's backs. I will say it straight. If there is a problem they will know pretty quickly."
Which he backed up on the subject of Israel Folau and whether he deserved a second chance in rugby league.
V'Landys was unwavering that there was no place in the NRL for the fallen star.
"The game is inclusive. The comments of Israel is not inclusive," V'landys fired.
"Israel has to understand that he is a role model and as a role model he has a duty.
"When I was at school and kids used to get bashed up because they were different I used to go and defend them.
"With due respect to Israel, what he says young kids listen to. He is a role model. They act on it. And when you are at school and you get bashed up because you are different I don't think that is a good thing."
V'landys said his aim was not to follow in former chairman Peter Beattie's footsteps of making himself popular on social media world but rather turning wonderful ideas into reality.
"The NRL is going to be a can-do organisation," he said.
"Our philosophy is don't give us five reasons why you can't do it, give us five reasons why you can do it.
"That will be the culture of the NRL moving forward."
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