NRL boss launches savage attack on AFL
NRL boss Peter V'landys has launched a savage attack on the AFL and says they will never reign in Queensland as a turf war breaks out in the wake of the Gabba's grand-final triumph.
In a stunning swipe at the AFL, V'landys went a step further, challenging the rival code to try and steal fans in rugby league's traditional heartland in Queensland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the AFL to play its showcase event outside of Victoria for the first time in its 123-year history and Brisbane will host the premiership decider on October 24.
As revealed by News Corp, AFL powerbrokers have devised a long-term strategy to take over the NRL in Queensland and believe the Gabba grand final is a springboard towards cross-code domination.
But ARL Commission boss V'landys jumped into the trenches to fire a stinging broadside at the AFL, declaring the NRL will always reign supreme in Queensland.
"They can huff and puff but they will never blow the house down because it's solid brick," he said.
"Our supporters are solid, they're not straw. They can blow all they like but they won't blow the brick wall down. Our rugby league supporters are strong, to say the least.
"All the huffing and puffing they are doing is not a concern.
"Queensland is part and parcel of rugby league. We've got the left arm in New South Wales and the right arm in Queensland. It's a vital part of our game.
"Queensland is not just Brisbane. It's from right up the top to the bottom.
"They can huff and puff and keep blowing but the brick house will stand."
The Queensland Government has played a major role in rescuing this year's AFL premiership, with 15 of the league's 18 teams currently in "hubs" from Cairns to the Gold Coast.
The AFL's decision to overlook bids from Western Australia and South Australia, rusted on Aussie rules states, has reinforced the game's desire to spread its wings in Queensland.
The Brisbane Lions are among this year's AFL premiership contenders while the Gold Coast Suns have been vastly improved in 2020.
The free fall of Queensland's sporting flagship, NRL glamour club the Brisbane Broncos, and the recent struggles of the Gold Coast Titans and North Queensland Cowboys has given AFL bosses further ammunition to launch an attack on rugby league in Queensland.
In May, the Queensland Government granted the NRL a travel exemption to restart its season and launched a fresh bid to host this year's NRL grand final at Suncorp Stadium.
The NRL has come under fire for refusing to play a grand final in Brisbane given Queensland's allegiance to rugby league.
The league has a 25-year agreement with the NSW Government to keep the grand final in Sydney and that doesn't look like changing.
V'landys is attempting to secure four new suburban Sydney stadiums worth $1 billion and that will hinge on the grand final remaining in NSW.
V'landys said the AFL's grand final ploy in Queensland wasn't genuine because it was a one-off game in extenuating circumstances.
"It's not of concern to us, good luck to the Queensland Government," he said.
"It's a one-off situation. It's not going to translate.
"It's like feeding meat to a vegetarian. The vegetarian might try it for a few minutes but then goes back to being a vegetarian."
The AFL's commercial team has discussed ways to obtain databases of rugby league fans in Queensland in a bid to make inroads into NRL heartland in the Sunshine State.
A source close to negotiations said: "The AFL is keen to get their hands on the databases of rugby league fans. With the Broncos struggling, they believe the timing is right to overtake the NRL in Queensland."
But V'landys scoffed at suggestions the NRL could lose a turf war to the AFL.
"The AFL can steal whatever databases they want," he said.
"It's a flash in the pan. The AFL will never have another grand final in Queensland ever again.
"Who cares? Queensland is rugby league heartland. As if some Cowboys fan in Cairns is going to start following the Brisbane Lions? I don't think so.
"The AFL can sell meat but the vegetarians won't eat it."
Originally published as NRL boss launches savage attack on AFL