FIVE BIG QUESTIONS FACING POSSIBLE NRL RESTART ON MAY 28
WHAT WILL THE SEASON LOOK LIKE?
Much of this depends on what comes out of crucial meetings with the broadcasters, likely to be early this week. Momentum is growing for a 20-round season that involves each team playing each other once, as well as a series of rivalry matches, before the traditional finals series. All games are likely to be played in NSW if travel restrictions still apply in Queensland.
HOW SAFE IS IT FOR THE PLAYERS TO PLAY?
The NRL is in possession of a letter from the NSW police commissioner saying there is nothing precluding the game from resuming its competition under the state’s current health guidelines. The league will make its official pitch to the state government on Wednesday, which is likely to include temperature checks at all training and match-day facilities, as well as blanket virus testing.
WHEN WILL TEAMS RESUME TRAINING?
Teams were instructed last week to prepare for a May 4 return to training, however much depends on when and if the Warriors will arrive in Australia. The New Zealand-based club needs an exemption to enter the country, and another to train while in a two-week isolation period before the competition resumes. Teams based out of NSW are likely to be forced into being based in Sydney should interstate travel restrictions remain in place.
WILL PLAYERS HAVE TO TAKE A PAY CUT?
Earlier this month the NRL and players union agreed to a 72 per cent pay cut for the players if the rest of the season was cancelled. Talks on a new deal will begin once the league’s discussions with broadcasters are finalised. There are suggestions television networks might want to extend their deals, raising questions about future club grants and salary caps.
WHEN AND WHERE WILL STATE OF ORIGIN BE PLAYED?
The NRL has guaranteed the series will be played in its traditional three-game format, but it is unclear when. NSW coach Brad Fittler has endorsed a push for the matches to be delayed until after the grand final to give supporters a chance to attend, should social distancing measures be eased. As for where, the Adelaide fixture has yet to be cancelled while the Queensland premier recently backflipped on comments she made about the entire series being cancelled.