AFL greats Garry Lyon and Tim Watson have admitted to firing “cheap shots” at the NRL as the league prepares to return from the coronavirus lockdown.
Last month, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys was widely condemned for announcing the NRL was aiming to make a comeback on May 28.
Despite some backlash, the NRL overcame travel bans, training restrictions and initial resistance from the Queensland government to ensure the competition could return in late May.
The AFL was more cautious in its approach, and recently revealed its season would resume on June 11th.
On Friday, V’landys took a cheeky jab at the AFL, claiming he “had a giggle” while the footy community frantically argued about bubbles.
“The first thing I said to Wayne Pearce, who heads Project Apollo, is that we won’t be using ‘bubbles’. We’ll just need self-isolation — and I was right,” V’landys told the Sydney Morning Herald.
ARLC chairman Peter Peter V’landys at Rugby League Central in Sydney.Source:News Corp Australia
Watson and Lyon suggested the NRL, logistically, had things easier and highlighted how the AFL had to combat West Australia and South Australia border closures.
Melbourne legend Lyon also couldn’t resist poking fun at the NRL attendance numbers, and referred to V’landys as “push-ahead Pete”.
“I don’t think they’ll miss the crowds much either by the way given not many turn up,” Watson said on SEN Breakfast on Monday.
The Daily Telegraph reporter Paul Kent took offence to the pair’s remarks and called them “halfwits” on NRL 360 on Wednesday, telling them to “pull your heads in” because rugby league has done a great job in getting back up and running.
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In an attempt to smoke the peace pipe, Watson and Lyon invited Kent onto their SEN radio show, where he called them out for firing barbs at rugby league.
“There were a couple of cheap shots in there about the crowds,” Kent said.
“You said it’s more complex for the AFL because there’s five states – New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. But you said in the NRL it was only New South Wales, Queensland and the New Zealand Government. You also have the Victorian Government you left out … as well as the ACT Government.
“It was quite complex. The New Zealand Warriors have had to camp in Australia; they can’t even return to their country.”
Watson conceded: “I left out Victoria, you’re quite right Paul.
“But there still are some complexities that the AFL are dealing with, with Western Australia and South Australia at the moment.”
Lyon added: “Mine was (a cheap shot about the crowd numbers), 100 per cent.”
SEN breakfast radio show hosts Garry Lyon and Tim Watson.Source:Herald Sun
Lyon clarified the pair’s previous comments, saying they had been fully supportive of V’landys during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Tim and I have been the greatest supporter of ‘push-ahead Pete’,” Lyon said. “We think he’s done an outstanding job in getting the game back.”
Although there is a healthy rivalry between the two codes, Lyon believed the AFL community was “cheering” for the return of the NRL premiership, despite the early scepticism.
“I do think we probably have had a superiority complex up here from an AFL point of view for a while,” Lyon said.
“The banter between the two codes should be strong.
“I will say genuinely Kenty we are really happy … we are cheering.
“When Peter V’landys said May 28 we put our hands in the air and all laughed but as it became apparent that it is going to happen, we are cheering for the comeback of the sport.”
The trio all shared a laugh and there were no hard feelings among them.
Hawthorn Football Club President Jeff Kennett.Source:AAP
On Monday, Hawthorn Football Club President Jeff Kennett poked fun at the NRL, dubbing rugby league a “boring” sport.
“You won’t find me biting at the bit to turn on the television to watch it. Boring, boring game. Doesn’t interest me at all,” Kennett told The Australian.
“I would rather do some underwater knitting.”
Kent unsurprisingly returned serve.
“Jeff Kennett said he’d rather knit under water than watch rugby league. Well I’ve got a pool up here,” he said on Thursday.
“He can come up and I’ll hold his head under.”
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