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NRL News: Clubs complain to Abdo about Gus’ media conflict of interest, Vegas idea ‘not a PR stunt’
NRL News: Clubs complain to Abdo about Gus’ media conflict of interest, Vegas idea ‘not a PR stunt’


CEO Andrew Abdo insists the NRL is not trying to silence Phil Gould after warning Canterbury their general manager of football must not comment on matters facing decisions in his role as a media pundit.

Gould has long been known for his pointed analysis of the NRL on Channel Nine’s 100% Footy and as a commentator during games.

But a perceived conflict of interest emerges when the former coach uses his media position to weigh into refereeing calls, judiciary matters and rule disputes that involve the Bulldogs.

On 100% Footy in March, Gould lashed the NRL for forcing the Bulldogs to include $200,000 of Josh Jackson’s salary in their cap for this year after the former captain retired in late 2022 with a season to run on his contract.

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On the same program, Gould labelled the NRL’s introduction of the bunker independent doctor “the greatest abomination” in the history of rugby league.

Gus hasn’t held back. ????

“That was an overreaction.” ???? ????#9WWOS #NRL
https://t.co/28Vk5PoQln

— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) May 2, 2023

He also criticised match officials for sin-binning Bulldogs second-rower Jacob Preston for what he claimed was not a hip-drop tackle in the Good Friday clash with South Sydney.

Gould received media scrutiny this week for questioning Newcastle’s decision to sign off on an overseas holiday for players during their bye this week, which comes after three consecutive losses.

Clubs have raised the issue with the NRL while Knights football manager Peter Parr said “people at other clubs should worry about their own club” after Gould lashed out at Newcastle’s decision to allow players to take a mid-season trip to Bali after a heavy defeat to Parramatta.

But Abdo said the NRL was less concerned with Gould’s penchant for strong opinions and more with accredited personnel following the rules.

“My conversation with the Bulldogs was just around registered club officials not breaching the rules,” Abdo said.

“If there’s a matter that’s live, for example either a matter that relates to the match review or the judiciary or an integrity matter, the rules don’t permit players or officials accredited under those rules to talk openly about it. That’s what the conversation was about.”

Abdo insisted the NRL had no intentions of muzzling Gould.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 16: Canterbury Bulldogs NRL General Manager of Football Phil Gould speaks to the media at Belmore Sports Ground on May 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. Gould spoke to the media as he left the ground after the announcement this morning that Trent Barrett had quit the role of Bulldogs head coach. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“This is definitely not about silencing anyone in the media, he said. “It’s important everyone have their opinions. You guys (the media) do a great job for us, telling the stories to the fans. This is not about not wanting criticism, this is just about the rules that the NRL has for everyone accredited in the game. 

“There’s a reason why club officials aren’t able to comment when a matter is live because we don’t want the perception of that influencing the decision-makers.”

All eight NRL games this weekend will be played at Suncorp Stadium as part of Magic Round and Abdo was confident the venue could handle the extra workload, despite criticism of its turf earlier in the season.

Suncorp Stadium general manager Alan Graham confirmed on Wednesday that an independent consultant had given the turf a green light, with good weather expected to help the surface remain respectable.

“We’ll all be relieved on Sunday after the last game,” Abdo said.

“But from all reports, we’re confident that the turf will be in great shape and will offer a great surface for fast and exciting football.”

Abdo denies Vegas plan is yet another a ‘PR stunt’

The NRL will decide in a matter of weeks whether to take two games to Las Vegas next season, with CEO Andrew Abdo insisting the plan is a genuine attempt at growing the game in the American market.

Australian Rugby League Commission chair Peter V’landys flew out on Thursday to begin getting the proposed double-header off the ground in the USA and will be joined by Abdo next week.

The matches, envisaged as the 2024 season openers, would be the first played for premiership points outside of Oceania. 

They would also mark the NRL’s first trip to America since taking a State of Origin exhibition match to Long Beach, California in August 1987.

South Sydney, Manly, Brisbane, Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters have all been suggested as potential participants in the Vegas extravaganza, which is seen as a potentially lucrative chance to break into the American sports gambling market.

Acting NRL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Abdo

Andrew Abdo. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The NRL also has the chance to spruik the game to a new audience of fans already enamoured with the similarly gladiatorial NFL.

“It represents multiple opportunities for us to think about new fans but also to create excitement at the start of the season,” Abdo said.

But the logistical challenges are considerable. Moving four teams and support staff safely around the globe to a party hotspot, promoting the fixtures to uninitiated spectators and fitting the matches in with the 2024 draw will require extensive planning on the NRL’s part.

“We need to make a call fairly quickly,” Abdo said.

“In the next couple of weeks we will know whether or not it’s feasible. 

“From there, we need to start then working with everyone involved if it’s going to happen to make it happen, including of course the impact on the draw.”

The proposed Vegas trip has dominated headlines in recent weeks and captured the attention of local fans and NRL players.

But Abdo insisted the matches were an earnest attempt to grow the game in the USA.

“We’re not doing this as a once-off PR stunt,” he said.

“We’re taking a long-term, strategic view so we want to make sure that we’ve got the building blocks necessary to really maximise the event.

“We need to look at stadiums, we need to look at costs and we need to look at making sure we have the right opportunity to engage the right influencers in the American market to really maximise and showcase a game that we’re really proud of.”
with AAP

This content was originally published here.










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