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NRL players in open revolt over crackdown on head contacts in the sport

Aaron Woods of the Sharks has blood coming from a head cut during the round three NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and Cronulla Sharks at Bankwest Stadium on March 27, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Daly Cherry-Evans claims it’s time for Peter V’landys to show he’s a man of the players, demanding the NRL’s stars are consulted on the game’s direction.


A frustrated Cherry-Evans let his frustrations show on Sunday, asking how any employer would feel if their day-to-day job was changed overnight.

The players’ union president and Queensland captain also revealed he was concerned over how State of Origin would look next month.

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Tensions between the players and league have been rising ever since Magic Round, where the NRL’s crackdown on foul play kicked in.

Chief among concerns is a feeling that players are not being listened to on key matters, including the NRL’s claims increased fatigue from new rules is not a factor in the game or the rise in foul play.

“You go to work tomorrow and you’ve signed up for something and then it gets changed. How would you feel?” Cherry-Evans asked.

“We have had our rules changed on the run mid-season with no consultation.


“We’re adapting, we’re adjusting, we’re doing the best we can.

“But you go ask the fans whether they like what they’re watching.”

Cherry-Evans stopped short of calling for V’landys to walk as ARLC chairman, after a report in the Sydney Morning Herald claimed there was a push for exactly that by some senior players.

“That’s not for me to decide. That’s a massive call,” Cherry-Evans said.


“We’re talking about someone who has done so much in their industries … and I have so much respect for what he did in the COVID period.

“Do I think he should go? No. That’s not for me to say, no way.

“(But) he has always said he is the players’ man, right now I would like to see Peter be that man for us.”

Instead, the incumbent Kangaroos skipper wants the league to sit down with players to talk through matters, believing it should have been done before any edict was laid out.

Manly’s loss to Newcastle on Sunday was again overshadowed by the crackdown, with three players sin-binned and questions over consistency from Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler.

The Sea Eagles halfback also claims he is supportive of the league’s move to try and eliminate contact with the head, but insists the right balance must be found.

“We’re not demanding money, we’re not demanding them to give us (anything),” Cherry-Evans said.

“We’re asking that if you’re going to change our working conditions then let us know and involve people.”

Cherry-Evans’ comments come as players prepare to go into Origin camp.

“We’re about to go into the pinnacle of the sport in Origin and we’re talking about if our product is right or not,” Cherry-Evans said.

“I am worried about it. I really hope with what’s arguably our biggest spectacle that we can see it celebrated for what it is.”


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