NRL rolls dice on shock May return

The NRL is reportedly aiming for a shock return in May, the ARL Commission expected to make a decision regarding the sport’s resumption on Thursday morning.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the ARLC will sign off on a Sydney-based 15-round season, to be confirmed at Thursday’s NRL innovation committee meeting. The structure of the 2020 season is set to be announced following tomorrow morning’s meeting.

Previous plans to contain the NRL’s players in a western Sydney “bubble” were scrapped after the NSW government’s positive assessment of the coronavirus epidemic on Tuesday evening.

After consultation with the state government, Sydney-based players will be able to remain at home when the NRL resumes, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

However, due to current travel restrictions, teams from Queensland and Victoria will need to reside in Sydney for at least two weeks ahead of the competition’s return. Meanwhile, New Zealand Warriors players will be required to self-isolate together in Sydney for two weeks.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARLC Chairman Peter V’landysSource:NewsComAu

“A secondary outbreak could see the NRL return to the bubble model later in the year, although the advice it has received predicts the daily increase in COVID-19 cases will be less than one per cent by the time of the NRL's planned return in mid-May,” The Sydney Morning Herald report read.

“The NRL is hopeful that by mid-June all states will relax their restrictions and it will be able to return to playing games at venues around the country, albeit without crowds in attendance.”

The alternative proposal – a two-conference system which splits the competition in half – has received backlash from the Rugby League Players’ Association.

State of Origin matches are expected to be played during their tradition mid-season timeslot.

If the NRL successfully recommences in May, the grand final would take place as usual on the first Sunday of October.

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