Pressure on NRL: ‘Everyone is looking at us’
ARLC chairman Peter V'landys says rugby league's biosecurity measures will be the "benchmark" for all Australian sports when the NRL resumes on May 28 with all 16 clubs involved.
V'landys insisted the Warriors would be in Australia by the end of this week, all Queensland teams were willing to play out of NSW and the revived season would span between 17 to 20 weeks.
While Channel 9 executives are pushing for only 15 more rounds, the chairman suggested the NRL would go deep into October as part of a Project Apollo blueprint which, he insisted, other codes would adopt.
Asked about his push to have players from two countries, three states and one territory back to training within eight days, and playing by May 28, V'landys said: "There's no doubting that everyone is looking at us - and that's fine.
"Right now, it feels like a 100m hurdle race. You jump one hurdle, only to be confronted by another one. But we've always known this would happen, which is why we've given ourselves time.
"Plus, you look at the work we've done on our biosecurity measures, I think they'll become benchmarks.
"And we don't mind being leaders.
"Because this isn't only for sport, it's about showing things can come back to some form of normality.
"We can't stay like this for the rest of our lives.
"But we need to (make changes) with least risk, with least risk of having a second wave of the virus."
Speaking with The Sunday Footy Show, Warriors CEO Cameron George said he could not confirm if his club would be flying into Australia this coming Sunday as planned.
However, V'landys insisted that ongoing talks with border security and the NSW Government would have the Warriors touching down on Sunday to begin training as planned.
The Warriors' player payments will also become much clearer by midway through the week.
V'landys said that he remained "absolutely confident" the three Queensland teams would also be ready to go, even if based out of NSW, despite the concerns of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who he will also meet with this week.
"I'm confident the Warriors will be here on Sunday," V'landys said.
"Because this isn't something we started overnight, we've been working on this for weeks now. And even if it is one day later, on Monday, it just means every other team starts back a day later with them.
"Importantly, the Warriors will be able to train as part of their quarantine. There is already a precedent on that because when we had them here last time, when the infection rate was at 25 per cent, they were still allowed to train where they were staying."
V'landys said he also hoped to have the season schedule finalised today. The preferred option now is another 17 to 20 rounds. State of Origin would then be played after the grand final.
"I've always said the more rounds the better," V'landys said.
"That keeps the competition as authentic as possible. Which is crucial.
"It's also why we are putting State of Origin after the season, as that then counters the fact we aren't going to have the usual number of rounds.
"Where clubs usually lose Origin players, or have them coming back while trying to recover (from interstate games), they can concentrate on the season without the worry of being disadvantaged."
V'landys will also meet the Queensland Premier this week and finalise how the opening weeks look for the Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans and North Queensland Cowboys.
"And one way or another, we will absolutely have those clubs involved," he said.
"Either they will be based out of Queensland or here in NSW, but we will have them in.
"And by the time we start, who knows where things are at?
"The borders may have been opened to Queensland. We me even have access between Australia and New Zealand.
"Everything is moving so quickly with this."
Originally published as Pressure on NRL: 'Everyone is looking at us'