Wallabies News | Rugby Australia boss Peter W’lands is being mocked for ‘yelling’ at rugby union over player raid on NRL site.
“Who is Peter?” — That was Australian rugby boss Hamish McLennan’s blunt response to NRL boss Peter W’landis and his comments aimed at the rival code.
In a war led by Rugby Australia, the chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission has been absent of late due to rising tensions between the two.
While much of the talk has been about union bosses approaching league players, McLennan said he has received a few calls from NRL stars.
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Aiding those efforts is the $8.2 million surplus announced by Rugby Australia on Wednesday, a major turnaround for the governing body in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just two years ago, the organization raised $27.1 million, staring down the barrel of the “hobby” future.
The question arises as to how this money can be spent.
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CEO Andy Marinos said much of it would be invested in the sport, specifically the grassroots and women’s game, rather than poaching NRL players.
“I wouldn’t say too much about what’s going to happen with the money, but we’ve had a lot of league players reach out to us,” McLennan said.
“They like the idea of playing league and we were the first to say that league is a great game, but they want something different with rugby union.
“There are quite a few who really want to come back, and we’ll see over time whether it’s right for them and for us.”
Sydney Roosters star Joseph Swaali was the first to pounce, while Nelson Asofa-Solomona of Melbourne Storm fame was close to switching sides.
Penrith Panthers captain Nathan Cleary and Brisbane Broncos star Payne Haas were also tapped on the shoulder.
McLennan described the codes as “uniform” behind the profit announcement.
He played down talks of a “raid” of the NRL, instead seeing some of the union’s prodigious talent lose out on the league.
McLennan isn’t afraid to offend anyone, not even his dead-in-the-wool daredevils who might be offended by trying to pillage a rival code.
In addition, he wants to prepare the Wallabies for the future, focusing on the 2025 British and Irish Lions and then the 2027 World Cup on Australian soil.
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“Some rugby players hate it,” he said.
“We’ve seen over the years that we’ve lost some really good union players to the league and they’re poaching our talent pool.
“If we get one or two back, it will crackle. We were very strategic. It’s a free market. This is good for players. Like Eddie [Jones] That said, only five percent of players actually have the skills to do both.
“When you look at a guy like Suaali, he’s a great natural talent. We take a long-term view of the Lions and the Rugby World Cup. He loves seven. We have a very differentiated offering.
“Everyone is going a bit bananas about it, but there will be a few players we want to pull back. We may not be right for everyone, but we think there’s a real role for former union players who play in the league.
“We’re going to get a few of them back, and we think they’re going to make a difference.”
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