NRL boss tees off after bubble disaster

ARL Commission chair Peter V'landys has issued the league a stern "wake-up call" after Souths coach Wayne Bennett and Dragons star Paul Vaughan were found in breach of the game's COVID-19 protocols on Thursday.

V'landys warned the NRL season could be in jeopardy if players and staff follow the lead of Bennett and Vaughan who sent shockwaves across the code ahead of Round 13 when they were found to have broken bio-security rules.

Vaughan had visited at a café in Illawarra while Bennett dined with his partner at an Italian restaurant in Leichhardt, forcing the NRL to place both men in 14-day COVID "holds".

While acting NRL CEO Andrew Abdo announced the "regrettable decision" to stand down the pair, V'landys was not as forgiving, as he told the league to shape-up or risk the future of the game.

Wayne Bennett, Coach of Souths.

"I think this is a wake up call to all our participants, all of our players, all of our support staff. That if we continue to do this, even forgetting about this year, it jeopardises the game for future generations," V'landys told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Because if we don't finish this year, it will have consequential effects on future generations - including themselves. Because the pain will be felt in the next two or three years.

"They're only hurting themselves. They should unite themselves and do the right thing for the game. Treat this as a wake-up call."

V'landys dismissed Bennett's defence that he was confused over the bio-security rules given they were recently relaxed before an uptick in COVID-19 cases in NSW and Victoria forced the stricter version of the bubble to be enacted once again.

Peter V'landys

"I don't think that's valid," V'landys said. "It was well known that the rules were relaxed but they were then reintroduced once the Victorian situation caused uncertainty."

V'landys also quashed concern that the breaches would put the NRL's current exemptions with the Queensland government (which has allowed the game to continue across both states) in jeopardy given the swift punishment handed down to each man.

"I don't think it's going to effect the exemptions because we're going to deal with them pretty harshly to show the government that we're credible and we will take the appropriate action," he said.

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