A post-grand final State of Origin series has been all but locked in after a breakthrough meeting between the NRL and its broadcast partners.
After a high-powered meeting on Friday, Channel Nine and Foxtel could not reach an agreement on the length of the NRL season, but confirmed the target date for round three.
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The structure of a revised NRL competition is imminent after television broadcasters agreed to recognise May 28 as the optimal season restart date.
On Friday evening, ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys confirmed to AAP that the NRL and broadcasters would finalise a competition structure early next week, as both parties want different outcomes.
"We confirmed the target date is the 28th of May," he said.
"The meeting with the broadcasters was extremely positive and amicable. We need a little more time, but we definitely announce it early next week."
Discussions remain ongoing about the length of the regular season, with Fox Sports said to prefer 20 more games to be played, while Nine would rather just 13 more games to avoid a clash with the T20 World Cup at the end of the year.
However, Cricket Australia have indicated the fate of the tournament may not be known until August.
What has become clear is that the usually mid-season State of Origin series will now likely be a standalone showpiece after the NRL grand final.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the series will be played 10 days after the grand final on three consecutive Wednesday nights.
Depending on how long the season runs if and when it resumes on May 28, the interstate series may not begin until November.
V'landys confirmed the end of season plans after Friday night's meeting.
“State of Origin will be after the grand final,” V’landys said.
“We need to consult the players and the clubs naturally but that is our plan.”
The acceptance of next month's start date comes a day after Nine fired a shot at the NRL's target start date, calling it "premature", noting a structure still had to be locked in as well as health and safety standards.
V'landys defends decision to restart competition
The players' union are supportive but also want more answers around health and safety before committing to May 28.
The game's return has also split public opinion, after the NSW Government said the sport could come back as long as it provided a safe workplace for players.
V'landys has claimed the biosecurity rules placed around the game will be the benchmark for all sports during the pandemic.
He is also insistent players will be safer when placed under the new rules than they are now, with no players contracting the virus while the competition has been on hold.
"Look, we have done our negotiation 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.
"The risk is minimal to zero. So why shouldn't we start playing? Why are we going to rob our fans and players, because of scaremongering and alarmist rhetoric?"
V'landys also intended to update the Queensland Government with their plans in a bid to allow teams to travel back and forth across the border.
That would save the Gold Coast, Brisbane and North Queensland from all having to base themselves in NSW when the competition returned.