'What if a player dies': NRL resumption 'won't be any time this year'

Penrith Panthers players, pictured here during their round 2 clash with St George Illawarra.
Penrith Panthers players look on during their round 2 clash with St George Illawarra. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The biosecurity expert who advised the NRL to suspend the season has offered a grim outlook for the remainder of 2020.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald anonymously, she said she couldn’t see the season resuming this year.

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“It’s the calm before the storm — but that storm is coming,” she said.

“What if one of your players gets sick and dies? Is it worth taking the risk of losing a player in the prime of their career?

“I think we will be dealing with this epidemic for the better part of this year. I’m really hoping we will have a vaccine next year.

“Then we can resume normal societal functions - like sport. But that won’t be any time this year.”

NRL sets deadline for restart of season

On Tuesday the NRL told clubs it has designed scenarios for the suspended competition to resume as late as September 1.

The governing body is also planning for possible start dates on June 1, July 1, and August 1, with any date later than September 1 seemingly not an option.

The details come following a meeting with all 16 clubs bosses on Tuesday, after the NRL season was suspended indefinitely on Monday due to the mounting coronavirus crisis.

A best-case restart in June would allow the NRL to complete all 25 rounds of its regular season, as well as the finals series, and a grand final in December.

The highly- lucrative State of Origin series could also be played prior to Christmas.

Clubs were also informed that they would receive their scheduled $1.2 million monthly payment next week.

The payments are also expected to be made in May and June, however it is unclear whether the league can continue cashflow from July onwards.

It is believed league officials will next meet with Rugby League Players Association to discuss the shutdown's impact on player payments.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, pictured here speaking to the media about the coronavirus crisis.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg speaks to the media. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

NRL players open to pay cuts

Players union boss Clint Newton says he was convinced the game would survive after holding a phone hookup with 40 leading players on Tuesday.

“I spoke to them (players) today to provide an update on where things are at and work through a process they have to consider with a reduction to their share (of income) and some of the next steps,” he told Fox League.

“It was a successful call. The players are incredibly engaged in a time of uncertainty.

“They understand it is a challenging time for everyone and they are prepared to do whatever it takes for this game to rebound.”

Newton, who was appointed CEO of the Rugby League Players Association last week, said the next steps would be thrashed out with further talks on Wednesday.

“The main part (about talks on Tuesday) was identifying the next steps ... discussing the steps involving a reduction in the players' revenue,” he said.

“But that is going to come down to having further discussions with club CEOs and the NRL tomorrow when we get further information on what the game looks like and what is the position of the clubs and what share the players have to take in that.

“But we have committed to work through a process.”

with AAP