When David Gallop held his final media conference as NRL chief executive after being ungraciously dumped by ARL Commission chairman John Grant, he delivered a prophetic line.
“If someone does this job for 10 years, I’ll be the first person to ring them up and take them to lunch,” Gallop said on that momentous day in June 2012.
Todd Greenberg (right) and Peter V’landys aren’t seeing eye to eye at the moment as discussion around the future leadership of the game heats up.Credit:Edwina Pickles
“It’s an intense job that fills your life 24-7 — and that’s a normal week,” Gallop said. “But you’re also just one phone call away from having your day turned upside down by something completely unexpected.”
The blowtorch is being applied to Greenberg right now, but surely V’landys and the commission must feel the heat for getting into a position where there's intense conjecture about the chief executive on the eve of the season.
It’s been claimed this column was strategically “leaked” the story about the delay two weeks ago. Certainly, fingers have been pointed at both V’landys and Greenberg for trying to fire up the debate.
This is a nonsense.
For months, the question was asked about when Greenberg's deal would be extended, if at all. Under the terms of his contract, the two-year extension was supposed to happen at the start of this year, not the season as some have assumed. It was also one of the conditions of Peter Beattie handing over the chairmanship last year to V’landys.
“In a few weeks,” was the general response each time. When the question was asked two weeks ago, just before the annual general meeting, the reply was curt: “That’s in commercial confidence”.
Of course, nothing reeks of drama more than the words “commercial in confidence”.
Since then, there’s been plenty of manoeuvring and positioning, with meetings held and subcommittee’s formed — and all this while the game was trying to ramp up the start of its season.
The matter will finally come to a head on March 19 when the commission next meets.
V’landys established at the last commission meeting a subcommittee consisting of himself and fellow commissioners Wayne Pearce and Gary Weiss to come up with a recommendation about whether Greenberg should keep his job.
It was viewed by some as a sign that V’landys doesn’t have the support he needs from the other commissioners. V’landys is confident, however, his peers will back whatever decision he makes.
We’ll see. You might recall there was considerable push-back about V’landys becoming chairman when the commission met in director Tony McGrath’s offices in Martin Place in September last year.
They were unhappy about the manner in which Beattie had publicly endorsed V’landys to the point where it looked like they didn’t have a say in the matter.
They were also worried about V’landys’ conflict of interest as Racing NSW boss. Not only is he in charge of another major sport, but also has strong connections with News Corp.
The commission lost one of its best operators when Amanda Laing stood down, citing conflict-of-interest concerns because she is chief commercial officer at Foxtel.
V’landys has the support of most NRL clubs, although that doesn’t surprise given a powerful bloc of club powerbrokers have been backing him as the next chairman for some time.
There's a growing fear from some interstate clubs he’s getting too close to some of them.
Will Greenberg survive? The answer depends on who you talk to: some say he’s already gone while others suggest he has enough support among the commissioners to stay on.
When V’landys was eventually installed as chairman that day in McGrath’s offices, the first person he called was Greenberg.
“This is your chance to shine,” V’landys told Greenberg, according to several NRL sources.
Same might be said of the chairman.
NSW coach Brad Fittler tries on the Dreem sleep assessment headband.Credit:Wolter Peeters
Blues chasing Origin dream
He’s had his NSW players meditating, earthing and holding their breath at the bottom of a pool for long periods.
Now, NSW coach Brad Fittler will take on the final frontier as the Blues chase their third series win in a row against Queensland: sleep.
Fittler has partnered with sleep device company ResMed Australia, which promotes health and wellness through getting enough shut eye.
Among its products that Fittler will make available to his players are headbands that assess a person’s sleep, as well as groovy Dreampad pillows with inbuilt speakers.
Fittler gave this column both to try. I can report I can no longer get to sleep without the gentle sound of crashing waves drowning out the never-ending police and ambulance sirens of Kings Cross.
“We have a real strict routine about when we get up and go to bed in Origin,” Fittler said before World Sleep Day on Friday. “My biggest thing in a camp when we bring the boys together is getting them off their phones, keeping them hydrated, having good communication … But I take sleep more seriously than all of it because, when you get that right, everything else falls into line.”
Many of the professional clubs get it. The Roosters recently identified the need for players to slowly change their sleeping habits for the World Club Challenge on the other side the world.
Fittler’s detractors will dismiss this as another gimmick, another grab for publicity. He doesn’t care, as you’d expect from someone who has won two Origin series in a row.
“It puts pressure on me, and takes it off the players, but over time I reckon the players realise a lot of this stuff actually helps them,” he said. “Practise meditation enough, you notice it. Sleep better, you notice it.”
And if all else fails and Blues players can’t sleep, they can just read this column a few times and they’re bound to sleep for days!
Dogs duo's fate hangs in balance
If the NRL doesn’t deregister Bulldogs players Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera, they can at least expect a long holiday on the sidelines for their dalliances with Port Macquarie schoolgirls two weeks ago.
The last player to be deregistered was Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona for betting on matches. In recent times, Jack Wighton (10 weeks), Mitchell Pearce and Corey Norman (both eight weeks) have done lengthy stints on the sideline for doing silly things on the drink.
Both the NRL and the Bulldogs believe they have grounds to sack Okunbor and Harawira-Naera for bringing the game into disrepute, but what will help them is the way they have fully co-operated with the integrity unit.
In what must be a world first, there have been no revelations, since the story first broke of the players being stood down, that head office didn’t see coming.
Right on cue — and just like last year when the whole sex-tape scandal cranked up — social media has been flooded with fake videos and images of the pair and other players.
People are the worst.
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