NRL 2022: Noel Cleal unleashes on ‘greedy’ NRL stars amid CBA crisis
Noel Cleal has gone nuclear on campaigning NRL stars amid the ongoing salary cap crisis, telling them to ‘go to buggery’ and claiming loyalty is dead.
Premiership-winning Manly legend and retiring recruitment manager Noel Cleal has accused modern-day rugby league players of being “greedy” and declared they should be told to “go to buggery” in their bid for more money in the NRL’s CBA crisis.
Cleal claimed Immortals like Reg Gasnier and John Raper would “roll in their graves” at the financial demands of current crop of players.
After a 25-year career in recruitment at Manly, Parramatta and Canterbury, Cleal announced his retirement on Tuesday as the last member of the Manly staff loyal to former coach Des Hasler.
Cleal did not want to comment on Hasler’s sacking at Brookvale, which could be headed for the courts, but had plenty to say about today’s NRL players.
“I think they’re f. ing greedy,” Cleal, who played 128 games for Manly after making his club debut in 1983.
“We have a duty to leave a legacy in the game and greed shouldn’t be part of that legacy.
“If I was Peter V’landys, I’d be telling them to go to buggery. They can’t keep going back to the well – we want more, more, more.
“Go to buggery!
“Today, if another club comes along with a bigger offer, a player will break a contract. They just say: ‘I want out’. It’s all about greed, it’s not about the game.
“I came through when a handshake was your word, it was your honour.
“The players today have never had it better in terms of facilities, sports science, support, rehabilitation. They want for nothing, all the clothing, it’s all given to them. Maybe the players want to run the entire NRL, they want to control everything.
“Players used to play five years to buy a house. Today, they buy two houses a year.
“We should never forget those people that played the game in the ‘50s and ‘60s, those that dug the well that these guys are drinking from.
“Blokes like John Raper and Reg Gasnier – they’d be rolling in their grave. In the main, the players these days are only worried about themselves.”
Cleal’s comments come amid what is tantamount to industrial action by players as they boycott NRL-sanctioned media events over the prolonged collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
The former Kangaroos star – famously nicknamed Crusher – said loyalty was officially dead in rugby league, and bush footy was headed the same way without significant investment, support and planning.
A lot of those blokes from the past worked two jobs and then played. It was all about fun, camaraderie and loyalty,” Cleal said.
“The golden thread that runs through NSW and Queensland country is rugby league and it’s dying on the vine. It’s really, really struggling.
“If the modern-day players keep on wanting more and more money, do they take it from the development of bush footy?
“How do we develop the next generation of players if there aren’t any resources to tip in because the current players are taking it all. That’s a real worry.
“The future of the game is most important. To see it dying at development and country level, that’s crazy. It’s a bit like the tail wagging the dog."