- Publish Date
- Friday, 10 April 2020, 9:42AM
The NRL plans to resume its season on May 28 after meetings between the Australian Rugby League Commission and the competition's innovations committee.
The competition, which was suspended after two rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been desperately searching for ways to resume as it stares down the barrel of financial disaster if they cannot play any further games this season.
And, despite settling on a date for the season to resume, with borders still shut, lockdowns still in place and Australia still feeling the effects of the pandemic, there is no guarantee that the league will be back up and running by then, and there are no concrete plans for how exactly the season will get back underway.
"We haven't finalised what that [competition] looks like yet," admitted ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce.
"Why we want to firm up a date is to give certainty to players and their schedules, clubs and thousands or people who are out of work through clubs and millions of fans.
"The details on the competition structure we haven't got yet because the landscape is changing around government boundaries.
"Because we're talking about seven weeks away the landscape is changing significantly," Pearce said.
"It was only a few days ago it was looking like we were having to go into an isolation bubble scenario with the support of a state government who are doing a fantastic job.
"The rate of increase in infections has come right down."
Pearce indicated that there would not be a conference system for the remainder of the season, as had been mooted in some quarters.
"We're leaning towards a competition structure that looks more aligned with what we've currently got. We're not going to the conference scenario at the moment," he said.
"We've currently got support from the NSW government in terms of if we adhere to public health guidelines and make sure our players follow those guidelines, we are able to train and play provided we have strict measures around testing the players, and put other protocols in place to minimise the risk of infection within the playing group and community.
"What's really important for us is the welfare issue. We're working with respective governments - NZ, Victorian and Queensland - for teams that have to travel. The welfare issue of players being away from families is a significant factor we need to address."
The news follows Channel's 9 threat to walk away from the NRL, with the broadcaster releasing a scathing statement which claims the NRL has "squandered" millions of dollars poured into the game by its TV rights partners.
Pearce was hopeful that relationship could be mended.
"They're a key partner for us and we intend to fulfil our contractual obligations. We hope to maintain a working relationship that will work for both parties."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission