A claim from ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys that he should have kept the NRL playing throughout the coronavirus outbreak has been branded "absurd" by Peter FitzSimons.
V'landys made the claim again to The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, saying that enacting a shutdown after two rounds of the competition was the only regret of his response to the pandemic.
The NRL has been inactive since late March and will restart this Thursday.
"Public relations-wise, it would've been difficult. People would've asked, "Why is rugby league still going and we're not?" It would've been a nightmare, along with the closure of the borders," V'landys told the Herald.
"But racing proved you can do it properly if you follow the correct biosecurity measures. People say players are spitting all over each other. But if they're all negative, what does it matter?" © Nine/AAPPeter V'landys and Peter FitzSimons.
FitzSimons, a former Wallaby and persistent critic of the NRL's fast-tracked return, said that there were still major question marks over the restart. The AFL will resume two weeks later.
"When you say Peter V'landys is in overdrive, is he ever not in overdrive?" FitzSimons said on Sports Sunday.
"The idea that they were wrong to shut it down, absolutely absurd. At the time, it was stunning that they were able to keep it going for two weeks. If they'd gone on for three weeks, there would have been an uprising. They had to stop.
"I hope [it's] proven right, that it's a wise decision [to restart]. I still have my fears that it's coming back way too early and that what's happened is, from the moment the government let them through the traffic lights, everybody else stop, you go through ... of course everybody else has to go through."
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Rugby league has led the way for Australian sport and even internationally. Only the UFC and some football leagues have restarted earlier.
"He had an answer for every single question, he wasn't stumped at any point," netball great Catherine Cox said on Sports Sunday, recalling a recent interview with V'landys on the show.
"He's covered all his bases, he's done all it the right way. I have no doubt this is actually going to succeed and I'm really encouraged by that, because I want the netball to start.
"I want a V'landys in netball, because at the moment, we're still looking for a training [resumption] date to even start and get things going. He's done wonders for the sport [of rugby league]." © AAPARLC chairman Peter V'landys.
Former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor lauded V'landys' aggressive foresight. He said that beating the AFL to resumption was a big plus for the NRL.
"He's been bullish, there's no doubt about that, but he's been brilliant," Taylor said on Sports Sunday.
"He's now stolen a march on all the other sporting codes.
"There's no doubt that's one of the reasons that Peter V'landys was so bullish, because he wanted that free space. For the first time probably, the NRL has led the AFL; normally it's the AFL who are quite bullish.
"The AFL were originally talking an early July start, now they're June 11, so they're already come in two or three weeks on where they originally thought they'd start their season; only because they're following the NRL.
"That's what V'landys and the NRL wanted and that's what they're got."