NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: Strike threats, Cody Walker blackmail and farewell to Arthur Summons
Last Updated: 18/05/20 1:58pm
Jenna Brooks looks at the latest news from the NRL including referees accused of sabotaging the game and attempts to blackmail Cody Walker.
The NRL's decision to revert back to one on-field referee has generated plenty of negative discussions, however the biggest threat to the May 28 restart is an ongoing dispute with the referees' union, with suggestions they could strike in response.
The Professional Rugby League Match Officials (PRLMO) has taken the NRL to the Fair Work Commission over the decision to go back to one referee for the rest of the season, claiming they were not consulted before the change was implemented.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys insisted the resumption of the season won't be affected by this dispute and the NRL has guaranteed that all 22 full-time referees will be retained beyond the 2020 season.
"All the full-time refs, none of them have lost their jobs, so what are they going on strike for?" V'landys told The Sydney Morning Herald.
"But we're prepared for all contingencies …. always have been. I don't want to telecast what we'd do but we've got plans in place.
"I don't think they'd get any sympathy whatsoever if they were to sabotage the game with such an action. It would be risking the game's future if they were to do something like that."
The NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler has labelled the PRLMO's move 'ridiculous' and has questioned the amount of power the officials seem to have.
"It is ridiculous what the referees are trying to pull," Fittler told Nine's Sunday Footy Show.
"What's happened over the last ten years, the refs have been put on this level of power. I could never understand why.
"The referees love the game, they get in there and do a great job but outside that, that's where it had to stop.
"For them to be protesting and going to hold the game up …. well get a whole heap of other referees."
The controversial decision is expected to save the sport approximately $2.5m (£1.33m).
Cody Walker said he will accept whatever decision the NRL and his club, the South Sydney Rabbitohs decide, after the NRL star claims he was being blackmailed over footage of a wild brawl.
The NRL star instigated a police investigation after he was asked to pay $20,000 (£10,630) in order to stop a video of him kicking a man in the chest from being leaked to the media.
Walker, who has been cleared to train with the Rabbitohs, said the incident, which took place in northern NSW late last year, started because he was defending a family member.
"I was trying to protect a family member after the loss of one of my first cousins who we lost through suicide," Walker said on Channel Nine News.
"She was 24 years of age and we were grieving her. Seeing her brother, who is my first cousin, seeing him fight, the first thing that popped into my head was I just need to stop it.
"It was not a true reflection of my character and who I am as a person. I let the club know straight away after the incident."
"I had no recollection that there was a video. The video came out and I let Souths know.
"My manager got a phone call and they basically said they want $20,000 for the vision or else they would pass it on to media outlets."
NSW Police are calling for anyone involved to call Crime Stoppers.
The game has said goodbye to one of the greatest to have played, Arthur Summons.
In 2018 the former Australia captain, who underwent major surgery to remove cancer from his mouth, has died, aged 84.
Summons, whose image, alongside Dragons Immortal Norm Provan, makes up the NRL Premiership trophy, which is named in their honour - 'The Provan-Summons Trophy.'
The trophy is a three-dimensional cast of an iconic photo taken of the duo after the 1963 NSWRFL Grand Final, called 'The Gladiators'.
"You look at that trophy and it shows you why rugby league is so great. When you saw Arthur, especially because he was always with Norm …. Norm is tall, and Arthur was tiny," Brad Fittler said.
"He wasn't a man of tall stature …. but what he lacked in size he had in heart, brilliance, and fierce determination," ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys.
The five-eighth and half-back, was a dual code international, who played 10 Tests for the Wallabies, before switching codes, to represent the Kangaroos in nine Tests, including the first team to tour Great Britain.
He later become a member of the NRL Hall of Fame.
"A huge loss, not just to the rugby league community but because he was a wonderful man and one of natures true gentleman," Peter Sterling told Channel 9's Sunday Footy Show.
A private service will be held for the Rugby League great in his hometown, Wagga Wagga this week.