The NRL has release the first two rounds of its revised 2020 season draw, with the rest of the schedule to be made public next week.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys originally set a deadline for the entire draw to be finalised by Friday, but delicate broadcast negotiations have dragged on.
Despite all the drama, the NRL delivered the first full fixtures for Round 3 and Round 4 of the competition in an announcement on Friday — after the first two rounds were played before the game was brought to a shuddering halt by coronavirus restrictions.
It was revealed before the announcement that the NRL planned to use BankWest Stadium and NetStrata Jubilee Stadium (formerly WIN Jubilee Stadium) in Kogarah as its two home grounds for every Sydney club, as well as Newcastle and Canberra.
The Gold Coast Titans will be forced to play their home games at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, while the Broncos, Melbourne Storm and North Queensland will play at their regular home grounds.
Meanwhile, the 2020 State of Origin series is reportedly set for a shake-up as an end-of-season showpiece that will be staged over three consecutive weeks, beginning November 4.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the NRL is expected to confirm next week the series will be played on three consecutive Wednesday nights — November 4, 11, and 18.
The venues have not yet been announced with the NRL reportedly still holding out hope of staging one game at the Adelaide Oval as part of a previous $6 million deal with the South Australian government. Game 1 was originally scheduled for the Adelaide Oval in June before coronavirus restrictions wreaked havoc on the game.
The NRL has also been unable to announce the venues for the third and fourth rounds of the competition, despite the fixtures being confirmed on Friday.
Mitchell Moses and the Eels will re-start the 2020 season at Suncorp Stadium.Source:AAP
The fixtures include a Brisbane-Parramatta showdown as the game that will re-start the season on Thursday, May 28.
A Roosters-Rabbitohs grudge match headlines the action for the first Friday night of the re-launched season.
Crucially, no teams with players refusing to take their flu shot will travel to Queensland in the opening two rounds, avoiding a possible headache for the NRL and its clubs.
SEE THE FULL FIXTURE BELOW
Canberra, Manly and Cantebury have avoided the need to play away matches against Queensland teams in the opening fortnight. The three clubs have players that have refused to recieve an influenza immunisation injection.
Penrith also have both their games in Sydney, after not disclosing to the media whether all their players had been vaccinated.
Had they been set to travel to Queensland, it would have caused a political storm given that the state government will now allow players to take to the field without the jab unless they have a medical exemption.
“Today we have released the next two rounds of the draw to provide certainty for clubs, coaches and players so they can plan for the coming weeks,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.
“We are currently finalising the full draw with our broadcast partners and key stakeholders.” “Rugby league is so important to so many people.
“We hope that the football resuming will bring some positivity and excitement back to our fans and the wider community.”
V’landys earlier said the biggest headache surrounding the season fixture was locking in an agreement with broadcast partners Channel 9 and Foxtel.
“The problem we have is the broadcasters. We are caught in the middle of it, we are trying to finalise it,” V’landys said.
“I’ve discussed with (acting chief executive) Andrew (Abdo) and Andrew and I agree we should just do the first two rounds to get the coaches up and going again.
“We will do the rest by next week. I’m frustrated like everyone else about the draw.”
REVISED NRL DRAW FOR ROUND THREE
May 28, Thursday
Brisbane vs Parramatta, 7.50pm
May 29, Friday
North Queensland vs Gold Coast, 6pm
Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney, 7.55pm
May 30, Saturday
Warriors vs St George Illawarra, 3pm
Cronulla vs Wests Tigers, 5.30pm
Melbourne vs Canberra, 7.35pm
May 31, Sunday
Penrith vs Newcastle, 4.05pm
Manly vs Cantebury, 6.30pm
REVISED NRL DRAW FOR ROUND FOUR
June 4, Thursday
Brisbane vs Sydney Roosters, 7.50pm
June 5, Friday
Penrith vs Warriors, 6pm
Melbourne vs South Sydney, 7.55pm
June 6, Saturday
Parramatta vs Manly, 5.30pm
North Queensland vs Cronulla Sunday, 7.35pm
June 7, Sunday
Canberra vs Newcastle, 4.05pm
Gold Coast vs Wests Tigers, 6.30pm
June 8, Monday (Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday):
Canterbury vs St George Illawarra, 4.05pm
— with AAP
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