Peter V’landys has refuted players’ claims that the NRL is not doing enough to protect them, adamant its an overreach to say they will end up in hospital after being scared to defend themselves.
Corey Norman’s two-game ban with one suspended and a $20,000 fine for a street brawl shapes as a sticking point for the NRL and the players’ union, with Norman adamant he was acting in self-defence.
The St George Illawarra half will fight his proposed sanction this week, before a final outcome is determined.
Even if he appeals that, it’s understood the NRL will want the case finalised before the season kicks off.
However, it appears highly unlikely the bigger issue will fade that quick.
In a statement on Monday night, Rugby League Players Association boss Clint Newton claimed several players had told him they were concerned by the NRL’s stance.
Namely, they were frustrated with “the lack of protection” offered by the game when players are targeted in public.
But the ARL Commission chairman hit back on Tuesday, adamant that was not the case and that the game’s attractiveness to sponsors was also at risk.
“No one is working harder for the players than us. So it’s a bit disappointing to see those statements that are being made,” V’landys told AAP.
“We should all be concentrating on that perception that is out there in the market place.
“What I have said publicly and continue to say is that 99 per cent of our players are fantastic.
“Because they do a lot of things in the community they don’t get recognised for.
“However, the one per cent who do the wrong thing tarnish the rest.
“We are acting in the best interest of the players, because it is their reputations being damaged.”
The incident comes as the RLPA wants to meet with the NRL and seek independent advice over the league’s plan to increase fines for off-field incidents.
Norman is not the first player to unsuccessfully claim self-defence in an off-field incident, after stating he was protecting himself and James Segeyaro after the latter was racially abused.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona was suspended for three Tests in 2019 after arguing he was protecting Suliasi Vunivalu when he threw several punches in a brawl in Bali.
The Norman incident prompted Brisbane veteran Alex Glenn to claim this week that a player would end up in hospital because they feared an NRL punishment if they defended themselves.
But V’landys labelled Glenn’s comments as “scaremongering”, maintaining players could defend themselves when in danger.
“I think it’s a bit of an overreach to say players are going to end up in hospital, because naturally players can defend themselves,” V’landys said.
“From my understanding with the Corey Norman case he didn’t need to retaliate.
“By all means people need to be able to defend themselves and no one is arguing against that.
“Every case is looked at on its merits and the integrity unit analysed that he had some fault and I have to accept that.
“But it’s an overreach to say players will end up in hospital because that is not the case at all.
“I don’t think you need to use scaremongering to make a point.”