'Tonic we need': NRL's extraordinary plan to restart season in May

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read
Todd Greenberg and Peter V'landys, pictured here speaking to the media in Sydney.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys speak to the media in Sydney. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The NRL could resume its competition as early as May 21 and the restart will receive the backing of the NSW government.

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 Barilo, the NRL is the tonic Australia needs to endure the deadly coronavirus.

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Barilo described watching rugby league as being fundamentally Australian, and that 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,” Barilo said on Fox League Live.

“And there's no doubt that the NRL is the tonic we need to get through this virus.”

What will the restarted season look like?

An innovative committee will present a number of proposals to the Commission, including temporarily relocating non-Sydney teams to the harbour city.

How long the likes of Brisbane, North Queensland, Gold Coast, Melbourne and the Warriors stay in Sydney depends on interstate travel restrictions.

It is understood some teams could be housed in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct, while the Panthers Rugby League Academy is another option.

Barilo said the league would have the government's backing to restart its season, which was suspended after round two, to resume as early as May 21.

He hailed ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys for the way he kept the racing industry going during the pandemic.

“I'm a big fan of Peter V'landys and what he's done with racing. Racing continues as we speak. They've put in all the protocols and measures,” Barilo said.

Sydney Olympic Park, pictured here during the suspended NRL season.
Sydney Olympic Park is being mooted as a possible 'bubble' location for players. Image: Getty

“And we've got to be flexible enough to work with the NRL.

“We need this more than ever before. Of course, the government will have to put some level of support into it. There's no question about that.

“We'll do that when there is an ask and plan pitched to government."

Barilo's comments come after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian hinted at restrictions being loosened in a couple of weeks.

Barilo also said having NRL back would provide a mental lift for the nation.

“I'm confident that rugby league will lift the hopes and spirits of our nation and I know we've got a Prime Minister that loves his league,” he said.

“You've got supporters at state government level. I believe it's got to be one of the first moves to get the NRL going again.”