Even senior members on the Project Apollo working committee were reportedly stunned by revelations on Wednesday the 2020 NRL season will resume in May.
The Australian Rugby League Commission will meet on Thursday to discuss recommendations handed to them by the eight-member innovations committee charged with giving the game a head start when coronavirus restrictions begin to be eased.
Unfortunately, the latest proposal that the season could restart on May 21 reportedly blindsided members of the committee responsible for planning the return of the competition.
Project Apollo chairman Wayne Pearce is joined on the committee by Roosters coach Trent Robinson, Raiders CEO Don Furner, RLPA CEO Clint Newton, former politician Troy Grant, NRL chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo, NRL chief corporate affairs officer Liz Deegan, and NRL head of football Graham Annesley.
The Courier-Mail revealed the innovations committee will present two plans to ARLC chairman Peter V’landys on Thursday.
One plan calls for the 16 clubs to play each other once in a 15-round season before a finals series would take place.
The other proposal would carve the 16 clubs into two conferences, however, the report claims the NRL is confident it will not have to pull the trigger on the controversial “bubble” lockdown, allowing players to isolate at home with their families.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys.Source:AAP
The proposals will reportedly allow the 2020 State of Origin series to remain the jewel in rugby league’s crown with a mid-season three-match series to take place.
It is also expected that the Warriors will be able to compete in the 2020 season with the report indicating the NRL is confident of securing the club special exemptions from the New Zealand and Australian governments, allowing them to enter a fortnight’s self-isolation in Sydney.
The brazen proposals fly in the face of government messaging for Australian residents to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel.
It’s why at least one member on the innovations committee was “stunned” to hear the committee was recommending a May 21 season restart.
“I have to say I am stunned by the thought of a May 21 resumption of the competition,” Sydney Morning Herald reporter Andrew Webster told Sky Sports Radio on Thursday.
“What makes me think that is that even people on the innovation committee — that was charged about 10 or so days ago to come up with solutions for this and to work out when the game can restart – they were stunned by the news that broke yesterday, that there was going to be a May 21 or May 28 restart to the competition.
“Which makes me wonder whether this was just the case in the first place.
“I just think with something like this it’s too complicated and too complex to be talking like that.
“I’m just worried that the game is rushing back too early.”
He said the mood across the rugby league community is divided about the best way for the code to press ahead.
The NRL is planning for a season to conclude well before the start of summer.Source:News Corp Australia
“It’s too hard to know what everyone is thinking because everyone’s very fractured and has differing opinions on what should happen,” he said.
With the ARL Commission to decide on Thursday when and how it will resume its competition, the state government is supporting a restart.
According to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, the NRL is the tonic Australia needs to endure the deadly coronavirus.
Barilaro described watching rugby league as being fundamentally Australian, and it is important some sort of normality is achieved during the crisis.
“You measure risk versus the economic uplift, the social uplift, the mental wellbeing uplift,” Barilaro said on Fox League Live.
“And there’s no doubt that the NRL is the tonic we need to get through this virus.”
— with AAP
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