The NRL could be back much earlier than expected according to rugby league great Ben Elias and Daily Telegraph journalist Paul Kent.
Earlier this week, Project Apollo, headed by rugby league legend Wayne Pearce was tasked with getting the NRL back on the field after the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that the project would try to get players back on the field within eight weeks, with a July 1 restart date.
Some suggestions involve confining all teams and officials in a kind of bubble or capsule, like a reality TV program, in a secluded island location for a period of quarantine to avoid COVID-19 infection, and then keeping them there for several months to churn through enough rounds to make the competition viable.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg admitted there were “no bad ideas” when it came to getting the teams back on the field.
“The concept is as simple as trying to find innovative ways to get the game back,” Greenberg told Fox Sports on Friday. “And whether that’s putting players in secure environments, or restructuring how the competition looks and feels, we’re open to all suggestions.”
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NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has had plenty of time in front of the camera in recent weeks.Source:AAP
But rugby league legend Ben Elias said he had seen the proposal for Queensland resort Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, an hour from Brisbane which could house all 16 teams and staff and believed it was a good proposal.
Speaking on Fox League Live, he also said the Queensland government relaxing restrictions on sport in the state could help the game come back quickly.
“It can happen I believe it can happen in the next three to four weeks,” Elias said having admitted he had spoken with Wayne Pearce, who was heading the Project Apollo. “It can happen very quickly and wouldn’t it be a great sigh of relief for everyone wanting to watch rugby league again.
“Hopefully we can get back on the paddock ASAP. Wouldn’t it be great for rugby league to be the showpiece around the world and be the first to show the world that it’s the greatest on and off the field and how we can make things happen very very quickly. Health is first and foremost priority and (Pearce) will be very responsible in that manner but wouldn’t it be great to have rugby league sooner rather than later back on the screens?”
The NRL HQ has closed down but a return would be massive for the league.Source:Getty Images
Paul Kent said it was interesting that Elias admitted he was working with Pearce and that he believed the game could be back before July 1.
“I spoke to Wayne Pearce today and he said Peter V’landy’s has given him a mandate to get it back by July 1 and he’s hoping it’s back sooner,” Kent said, saying players could be going into isolation within “the next three to four weeks”.
Yvonne Sampson reacted “That’s unbelievable, it just saves the game”.
Kent said the media would be kept away with the NRL set to bring in its own people to film as the English Premier League football are set to do similar.
The EPL is facing a similar issue to the NRL with both leagues relying on broadcast deals to survive.
A day after the players agreed to forego five months of pay assuming the game doesn’t get back on the field, it appears to be a glimmer of hope to save the season.
The season was suspended after two rounds, played in empty stadiums. It finished on the same weekend that the AFL shut down after just one round.
One proposal to possibly allow a June 1 start involves setting up conferences based in Sydney and in Queensland.
“Obviously there are some things out of our control,” Greenberg said. “We don’t have a line of sight yet on what the government restrictions will look like or border controls on our teams in both Queensland and New Zealand, but what we don’t want to do is not be ready.”
— with AP
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