Should one man be at the top of two sports?


But it’s exactly what’s going to happen in February next year when V’landys, the long-time chief exec of Racing NSW, replaces Peter Beattie and also becomes chairman of the ARL Commission.

It was hardly breaking news when Beattie broke the news earlier this week this would happen.

Like an Energizer Bunny on a sugar high, Beattie has been working feverishly behind the scenes for months. He’s been talking about it publicly every step of the way, which rubs some in rugby league the wrong way because they prefer to work with smoke and mirrors.

It will get messy when you are the boss of one sport while helping to facilitate commercial deals on behalf of the other.

“There’s a very simple reason I’m stepping down is that I believe Peter V’landys would be a better chairman,” Beattie declared. “You need good people at the top, I’m getting old, I’m 66, I’ll be 67 in November. And you need a younger person to get into the right steels for media rights deals that will happen over the next few years. I just think Peter is better equipped to do the job. There’s no push or shove.”

V’landys, who is 57, has helped turned racing into a multi-billion-dollar industry, pushing and shoving for the rights of its stakeholders for many years, whether it’s taking on the Pope over the use of Randwick for World Youth Day celebrations or squeezing every available dollar out of the federal and state governments during the equine influenza crisis.

His imminent appointment as commission chairman has some in the racing industry concerned about how he can juggle both roles.

“The workload is pretty intense but I just get up earlier each day and get on with it,’’ he told News Corp earlier this week. “I’m just one member of a team at Racing NSW and the ARLC and both organisations have high-powered boards and very good executive management structures. If I was made chairman of the ARLC, I can do both jobs. I will definitely stay as Racing NSW chief executive.’’

It’s the potential conflict of interest in managing not one but two major sports that is the concern for the NRL.

Nobody is accusing V’landys of any wrongdoing. It’s often said he would prefer a fight rather than a feed in racing and he would do the same thing for rugby league.

But the optics aren’t great. They will be problematic. And it will get messy when you are the boss of one sport while helping to facilitate commercial deals on behalf of the other, namely the looming broadcast rights negotiations.

The formation of the independent commission was supposed to erase this sort of suspicion.

Doubtless, Queensland officials will view his ascension with a raised eyebrow, too. V’landys came onto the commission in the first place as the eyes and ears of several Sydney clubs.

The QRL is already suspicious enough about what’s going on down in Sin City.

Still trying to find a replacement for former commissioner Mark Coyne, Beattie will meet again with QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher on Friday in his bid to scrap the “three-year rule” preventing anyone who has been involved with a club in an official role in that time from coming onto the commission.

It will also be interesting to see what V’landys chairmanship means for NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg, who Beattie wants to stay for another two years. V’landys, though, isn’t a huge Greenberg supporter.

Ponga lays it on thick over Brown

Had Knights coach Nathan Brown “lost the dressing-room”, as they say in the classics?

Certainly, some of his senior players haven’t been too complimentary about him when speaking to others in recent months.

Disrespectful? Knights star Kalyn Ponga.Credit:AAP

Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga didn’t seem too fussed when he fronted reporters the day after Brown handed in his resignation.

“I was at lunch having a nice strawberry thickshake so I wasn’t too sad,” Ponga said.

That throwaway line has been slammed as disrespectful by some at the Knights.

Roosters assistant coach Adam O’Brien remains the pea for the job, although some Knights powerbrokers are edgy about giving a rookie coach such an important appointment.

O’Brien comes from the coaching bloodline in which the Storm’s Craig Bellamy is the dominant sire.

While the Bellamy system has produced a score of NRL coaches, some have taken time to develop. Coaching is only part of the job, having to juggle media, sponsor, recruitment and fragile players.

Steve Kearney is the best example of this. When he came to Parramatta in 2011, he lost a stack of weight within the first few months.

Asked what his secret was, he replied: “You try coaching Jarryd Hayne for a season”.

De Belin’s decision suits both parties

Beattie and his commission weren’t doing too much chest-beating when Dragons forward Jack de Belin dropped his legal dispute of the NRL’s no-fault stand down rule in Federal Court.

As a sign of goodwill, the commission decided to cover its own costs in the matter, instead of forcing de Belin to pay.

Which is probably a good thing because those familiar with these matters believe de Belin’s own legal bill, in taking on the NRL as well as fighting serious sexual assault charges, would be close to $500,000.

Wedded bliss goes amiss at Bunnies

It’s been handbags at 10 paces this week between Souths and the Broncos in the lead-up to Friday night’s fiery showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

Coach Anthony Seibold has been the main protagonist, having little cracks at the way Souths have played this year under Wayne Bennett, who Seibold swapped jobs in the off-season.

It was particularly interesting to see Souths captain Sam Burgess have a shot at his former coach. Some Rabbitohs players remain angry at the way Seibold just up and left them to coach Brisbane, although he has constantly denied any bad blood.

“There’s all this bullshit the players were off with me,” Seibold told this column earlier this year. “I never saw that. I went to Damien Cook’s wedding and sat with Sam and Greg [Inglis] and Sutto [John Sutton]. When the change happened, I called every single player. They understood where I was coming from.”

We’re not so sure it would be that convivial if they were sitting around the same table again.

Cricket leading the way on concussion

Leading sports doctor John Orchard was tucked up in bed asleep when Australian batsman Steve Smith suffered the serious blow to his neck in the second Ashes Test a Lord’s.

The immediate thought for so many people as Smith slumped to the ground was, of course, Phillip Hughes, who was struck by a bouncer playing for South Australia against NSW at the SCG in November 2014.

Cricket Australia chief medical officer John Orchard.

Cricket Australia chief medical officer John Orchard.Credit:Courtesy Cricket Australia

Orchard was on the field that day, performing mouth-to-mouth and CPR on Hughes.

In his role as chief medical officer for Cricket Australia, he has been instrumental in bringing in a whole range of new concussion protocols that saw Smith being ruled out of the third Test, which started at Headingley overnight.

Normally, sports are being whacked for how they handle their concussed players. Cricket this week showed it had got its act together, although it was Australia — and the likes of Orchard — who showed the way for the International Cricket Council, which has been tardy in allowing concussion substitutes and protocols.

The quote

Todd Carney's book Hard Truth.

Todd Carney’s book Hard Truth.Credit:

”Like John Hopoate is always remembered for sticking his finger up the arse of rival players, Trevor Chappell has had to live with the underarm delivery for decades and Mike Tyson is renowned for biting an opponent’s ear, ‘the bubbler’ is what people associate with Todd Carney.” – Carney in his new book, Hard Truth.

Thumbs up

Sydney Swans star Kieran Jack, who this week announced his retirement, will be remembered as much for growing the sport in this city and state as his memorable goal in the 2012 grand final win over Hawthorn. Well played, mate.

Thumbs down

Boooooooooooo! I’ve never understood the whole booing thing, especially fans who boo their own team. Anyway. The English fans who booed Steve Smith after he was felled in the second Ashes Test should boo themselves.

It’s a big weekend for …

David Warner. At the time of writing, the third Test hadn’t started but let’s hope Australia won the toss and he’s added considerably to his 18 runs from four innings thus far.

It’s an even bigger weekend for …

Cameron Smith, who will be watched like a hawk by every referee, official, commentator, rival coach and fan after being accused of pulling opponent’s ears. Storm host the Titans on Sunday in Melbourne.

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