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Brian Carney blasts Gary Hetherington’s comments on player welfare

Sky Sports pundit Brian Carney says he “couldn’t disagree more” with Gary Hetherington’s remarks about player welfare.

The Leeds Rhinos chief executive spoke to the media this week about the potential of rugby league players having to play additional games in midweek when the season resumes.

He said: “We have a rule where we can’t play five days after the last game, and that’s going to have to go out of the window as we will have to be playing three times a week.

“I’d be disappointed if I started hearing people whingeing, using player welfare as an issue for playing too many games, when it’s not.”

However, former Great Britain winger Carney has taken exception to Hetherington’s comments and promised to address them properly in the coming days.

“Now is probably not the time to get into that (player welfare) in much depth,” he told GP Daily. “We don’t know what’s going to eventuate and how they get the season up and running again.

RLPA leader Garreth Carvell helped make it compulsory for every club to have a player welfare manager. Credit: Richard Long/News Images

“I couldn’t disagree with Gary Hetherington any more strongly. I thought I was reading something from the dark satanic mills when I heard somebody say it’s got nothing to do with player welfare.

“When you decide to play three times a week, it’s little other than player welfare that would stop you playing three times a week. I’ll address that subject and Gary’s comments at a later date.”

Another topic of discussion this week has been the potential rescheduling of rugby league’s showpiece events, with a change of venue on the cards for both major domestic finals.

It is reported that the Challenge Cup Final could be switched to Old Trafford and the Grand Final to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the end-of-season Ashes series falling by the wayside.

Giving his thoughts on the possible changes, Carney said: “I believe if they are going to play out any sort of season then it has to come to a conclusion before the end of November.

“The players contracts run up until then and carrying those contracts through until after November may be an issue that’s insurmountable.

The Super League Grand Final could be played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November.

“That’s the worst-case scenario, to get a Grand Final in before the end of November, they have got that date and have the [Tottenham Hotspur] stadium booked, so it’s not a bad contingency, but it would mean no Ashes.

“You would imagine international rugby league would be the biggest victim in all of this because you are going to have the NRL clubs trying to get their season up and running.

“Super League, Championship and League One clubs will be doing the very same so international rugby league is unfortunately going to have to take a back seat.”

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