‘It’s sabotage’: V’landys ready to fight NRL refs
Peter V'landys has urged the NRL referees union to end its attempted "sabotage" of the season relaunch, warning their push towards industrial action has put thousands of jobs at risk.
Despite League Central already announcing a return to one whistleblower for 2020, the referees union will head to the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday in an 11th-hour attempt to have the decision overturned.
The proposed industrial action, which includes threats to strike, has been branded "selfish" by ARLC chairman V'landys - who remains adamant the switch from two referees will not only make the game more entertaining, but also improve officiating and save money.
The rugby league boss added that he already has contingency plans ready should the referees stand down, which has never been ruled out by Professional Rugby League Match Officials (PRLMO) chairman Silvio Del Vecchio.
Quizzed on potentially starting the season without his top whistleblowers, V'landys told The Daily Telegraph: "Obviously it's disappointing they have chosen this course of action when the game has already suffered so much.
"Right now, we're at a juncture where the whole viability of the game is at stake.
"So if they were to strike, they would be sabotaging the game.
"They could potentially be hurting thousands of participants in the rugby league industry.
"It would be a very selfish act."
To counteract a potential strike, V'landys is already working on a range of contingency plans that could potentially see referees called on from outside the NRL squad to officiate the opening rounds.
"But while we do have contingency plans in place, we're confident they won't be needed," he said.
"We're hopeful they (the PRLMO) act in the best interests of the game and be a little selfless.
"Given everyone else in rugby league has already taken some pain for the benefit of the game, I'm just hopeful now our referees do the same."
In a recent submission to the ARL commission, the referees union outlined seven reasons why any potential return to one whistleblower required lengthy and careful planning - including both player safety and the "superiority" of a two-referee model.
V'landys remains convinced however that one referee, when used in conjunction with the new 'six again' ruck rule, will actually give on field officials greater control while ridding the game of ugly wrestling tactics.
"This is a new approach to how we officiate games," he said of the move, which will still see all 22 fulltime referees retained.
"We believe (one referee) is going to improve the standard of officiating while also eliminating the wrestle and slowness of the ruck.
"It will also bring more consistency to refereeing.
"When you have two referees on the field, you have two different philosophies. And the grand final last year proved that it does make it difficult.
"This gives them control of the match and a game that is more entertaining."
Speaking on Monday, Del Vecchio confirmed his organisation was headed to the Fair Work Commission but refused to be drawn on various critics, including NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler who labelled their threats to delay the competition restart as "ridiculous".
"I'm not sure where Freddy gets his information from but at no stage have we said we're striking," Del Vecchio said.
"But we have a process in place and that's all I want to say at this stage.
"I don't want to get involved in conversations about an outcome the day before a conciliation meeting.
"We need to respect the process and let that unfold before we determine where to next."
Originally published as 'It's sabotage': V'landys ready to fight NRL refs