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Sport Coronavirus: When will the NRL return in 2020?

04:30  24 march  2020
04:30  24 march  2020 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The NRL had planned to play round three matches as late as Monday morning. Hours later, it was announced the competition would be V'landys isn't sure what state the competition will return in . " Rugby league will survive in some way. I can't guarantee it will be in the same way it is at the moment.

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The NRL has officially announced the 2020 premiership would be suspended amidst the increasing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As sports and leagues around the world shut their doors in recent weeks, the NRL remained determined to see it's competition continue in the face of the global outbreak.

However, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARLC chairman Peter V'Landys announced on Monday following round two that based on changes in advice from medical experts and new border restrictions in Queensland, the League had no other option but to stop the competition to protect players.

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The entire 2020 NRL season could be played behind closed doors after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that the ban on The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys can advise that a COVID-19 test undertaken by club employee Antonio Winterstein has today returned a negative result.

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It means the main question on all fan's lips now is: When will the NRL return?

NRL SETS SEPTEMBER CUT-OFF DATE FOR COMPETITION'S RETURN

The NRL has reportedly informed all 16 clubs that if the competition is unable to be re-launched by September 1st, it would be abandoned completely.

NRL.com reported on Tuesday that a number of return date scenarios have been raised with club bosses during a phone hook-up, with a June return the best-case scenario at this stage.

It means at best the competition would be put on hold for a total of nine weeks.

The report comes as clubs were also notified that close to $600 million in funding would be available over the next three months as the NRL attempts to keep the 16-team competition afloat amidst the severe financial threats associated with its suspension.

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PHIL GOULD: 'I CAN'T SEE HOW THE GAME WILL COME BACK THIS YEAR'

Rugby league heavyweight Phil Gould says unless a vaccine is designed to stop the spread of coronavirus, he fears the NRL will not return in 2020.

The suspension of the competition in the wake of the fast-moving outbreak is threatening to financially derail NRL clubs.

But Gould believes it is unrealistic to think the competition will return again un 2020 unless players have access to vaccination.

"I can only think it's (when there's) a vaccine and that there are no more dangers of spreading the infection - you reckon that's gonna happen in a month? six months? No chance in the world," Gould said on Channel Nine's 100% Footy on Monday.

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"We're talking next year and if the money stops between now and next year, clubs won't survive.

"I can't see how the game will come back this year. Unless a doctor comes up tomorrow with a vaccine that knocks this on the head."

ANOTHER 'MINI PRE-SEASON' A FACTOR IN NRL'S RETURN, GREENBERG SAYS

Greenberg says the players' fitness will also have to be considered if and when it is safe for the NRL to return.

With players from all 16 clubs forced into an indefinite lockdown, the inability to train together will affect their fitness.

Greenberg says it'll mean once the League determines a new start date for the season, clubs will then have to re-enter another pre-season period to ensure players are at a level to perform.

“What we’re looking at is, if we can get ourselves to a point where we know that there’s a start date again, we will have to establish a period before that with some form of a mini pre-season,” Greenberg told Channel Nine's 100% Footy

“We’re going to have to work on that with the RLPA and all our clubs.

“If the players go into a break, we’re going to have to reset the preparation for the next part of the season.

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“None of us have a crystal ball on when we can get back to playing.

“We can expect it to get a lot worse, particularly in NSW in the coming weeks. We’re going to experience something we’ve never experienced before.”

NO RESTART DATE IN PLACE, BUT NRL EXPLORING 'EVERY AVAILABLE OPTION'

While the AFL, who also announced the postponement of their season over the weekend, has outlined May 31st as the minimum length of their suspension, the NRL hasn't specified a time period for how long its competition would be put on hold.

Under the advice of commissioned medical experts, who revealed the rate of infection was increasing exponentially, the NRL had no other option but to temporarily suspend the season.

But in what has been a time of great uncertainty, at this stage they said it was too hard to determine a time for its return.

"We aren’t going to put a time period to the suspension," V'Landys said in a statement following the suspension decision.

"We are going to look at every available option to us in the next week or so as to how we can recommence the season. Be it in other areas, be it in Northern Queensland, all the options are still on the table."

Greenberg said the NRL would continue to lean on various sources of medical advice to determine when it was safe for the suspension to be lifted.

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"Our priority is to do everything we can to give our game the best chance for a long and sustainable future," the NRL CEO said.

"But the health of our players and our staff must come first.

"We look forward to returning to the Telstra Premiership as soon as is safe to do so.

"We cannot say with certainty what the future holds, but the rugby league community as a whole will work through this as a team."

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