NRL talking points: NRL plan end of May restart

Jenna Brooks looks at the news the NRL are hoping to restart their season on May 28.

Final say

NRL television broadcasters – Channel Nine and Foxtel have agreed the competition should recommence on May 28, with the structure and length still to be agreed.

However the final say will come from the federal government, who are expected to outline a national plan for the return of sport on Friday. The cabinet meeting is the final hurdle for the competition to resume.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys insists the NRL are close to announcing a revised season structure, with a 17 week or 20 week campaign the likely outcomes, with the main criteria – making it as authentic and as credible as possible.

“We confirmed the target date is the 28th of May,” V’landys said. “The meeting with the broadcaster was extremely positive and amicable.”

While Fox are hoping for a longer season, Nine would prefer it to be shorter to avoid a possible clash with the T20 World Cup, which is due to be held at the end of the year – however, Cricket Australia suggest the fate of the tournament may not be decided until August.

In some circles the game’s return has been met with mixed reviews, with some calling it premature.

The New South Wales government has said as long as a safe workplace for players was provided, it could return.

“Look, we have done our negotiations with governments,” V’landys told the Today Show on Friday morning.

“We are applying to governments. We’ll continue to do so. It’s five weeks away. In the last 14 days, our infection rate has been less than one per cent. We are confident that it’s safe,” he said.

Warriors latest

The New Zealand Warriors have been granted an exemption from the federal government to enter Australia and participate in the competition, which is set to restart at the end of May.

“We appreciate the federal government working with us to obtain a possible exemption to allow the Warriors to come into the country,” V’landys told the Herald. “We are now working with the NSW state government to get approval that will allow them to train while in isolation.”

If that does not happen, the team will spend 14 days in a hotel quarantined, which could potentially delay the restart by two weeks given every club has promised not to start training until the Warriors were able to.

Health and safety

To ensure the health and safety of players and staff, each player will have their home environment assessed by head office and will be encouraged to download the federal government’s contact-tracing phone app.

The #NRL will work with the Australian Government to promote and encourage the use of its Coronavirus Contact App which will help trace the virus ?

At the weekend, a detailed draft document on the biosecurity proposals, outlining a list of health and safety protocols was sent to club bosses.

Some of the requirements include; each club must submit a list of up to 50 players and staff who are allowed access to training and games, with every name – required to have their households assessed by the club’s medical officer, and no visitors are allowed into their home.

If the environment does not pass the guidelines, they will be asked to find other appropriate accommodation.

Players will be forced to isolate at their approved home, only being permitted to leave when travelling to training, playing, or for medical needs and essential food shopping, and must confirm their daily whereabouts and people they have come into contact with each day.

Other guidelines include temperature checks, daily cleaning of equipment. Players must travel to and from training alone in a private motor vehicle, unless granted an exemption in exceptional circumstances.

So what happens if these health and safety measures are breached? The NRL has warned it would apply strict penalties, including fines and a loss of competition points.

V’landys is in full support of a phone tracing app that was launched in Australia over the weekend, to help detect if one had come in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

“This app is a simple, genius idea that can help protect public health and eradicate the virus,” V’landys said in a press release.

“We absolutely believe in the importance of the community health message and are proud to work with the government to promote it far and wide.”

Abdo’s to lose

The NRL CEO position is Andrew Abdo’s to lose. They are the words of the ARLC chairman.

Chief commercial officer, Abdo is the man who has stepped up as acting CEO of the NRL, after Todd Greenberg quit the top job, after more than four years in charge.

“Andrew Abdo is a brilliant operator, he’s one of the best commercial people I’ve come across,” V’landys told The Continuous Call Team.

“All these revenues the NRL has generated over the past four or five years, Andrew has been front and centre of it.

“We need a commercial operator right at the moment, we need to look at the cost structure, our cost structure for the whole game is not sustainable.

“We need to maintain our revenues, so at the moment I think Andrew is the right man for the role and I think he will drive us forward and it’s certainly his to lose.”

A big thanks for all the kind words & messages over the last week. It has been a great honour & privilege to be the @NRL CEO & I’ve loved every minute of the journey. Our family is grateful for the many friendships we have made & we will always love & support the game

Meanwhile Greenberg has thanked fans for their recent support during this difficult time.

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