Stars won't want World Cup risk: V'landys

Peter V'landys says NRL players will not want to travel to England as it poses a serious COVID risk.
Peter V'landys says NRL players will not want to travel to England as it poses a serious COVID risk.

Peter V'landys claims Indigenous All Stars will not want to head to the Rugby League World Cup in England once they realise the health risk it poses.

An idea to have Indigenous and Maori sides replace the Kangaroos and Kiwis was set to be discussed at a meeting of World Cup officials on Monday night in England.

Such a side could include some of rugby league's biggest names, including Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr and David Fifita.

The same board meeting also pushed back a decision on whether to go ahead with the tournament, which could still include a high number of NRL players.

V'landys has not spoken to International Rugby League officials about his request for the tournament to be postponed following the ugly fall out from Australia's exit last week.

But the ARL Commission chairman doesn't believe Australian-based players will want to head to the tournament once considering the COVID-19 risk in England.

"I haven't given (the Indigenous side playing) any consideration at the moment because I think when players understand the risk they are undertaking they will have a different view," V'landys told AAP.

"You have to remember people say the Olympics went on but they did get postponed and Olympic athletes haven't been in a bubble for 18 months.

"We have had them in a bubble for 18 months, they have two-week confinement at the moment away from their families.

"You have to be a little cognisant of the conditions they are under."

Australia and New Zealand's decision to pull out of the tournament has gone down like a led balloon with global officials.

Everyone from English rugby league administrators to politicians have criticised Australia, while players' union general president Daly Cherry-Evans is adamant his cohorts wanted to go.

International Rugby League chair Troy Grant has also criticised the decision, indicating he'd rather the tournament went ahead this year or was cancelled rather than postponing it.

But while organisers had provided biosecurity plans that saw the implementation of a bubble with some small freedoms, V'landys stood by his decision given the rising COVID rates in the country.

"We have locked down Sydney with 150 infections. In England at the moment it is averaging 40,000 a day," he said.

"We did it because we don't want to put any more mental stress on the players.

"And there's a possibility if they go over there and get infected, then they have to spend 14 days in a hotel room on their own.

"People are acting irrationally. They should look at the facts.

"We have based our decisions on the facts. We haven't based it on emotion. And we're not going to risk the wellbeing of our players."

Australian Associated Press