Russell Crowe’s solution to NRL crisis

Australian actor and South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe has urged the NRL to consider radical options to ensure the 2020 season goes ahead.

Round 1 was played as normal last weekend and Round 2 begins tonight in front of empty stadiums. Fan lockouts will be the norm for at least the next six months after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced strict new measures banning outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more.

Crowe wants the NRL to consider basing all teams in regional towns in northern NSW and Queensland, with warmer temperatures than urban centres, if it is proven coronavirus is less potent in hot weather.

The Hollywood icon and diehard Rabbitohs fan believes basing players in less populated rural areas and having them take buses rather than planes is a possible solution to keeping the footy season running.

“If it can be proven correct, I like Wayne Bennett’s idea — based on the information that this particular strain seems to be less potent in warmer climates — to move all teams and coaching squads to northern regional centres,” Crowe told The Daily Telegraph.

“It is worth examining.

“There are a lot of little towns with well-lit sports grounds and motel and hotel accommodation, gyms and war memorial pools.

“Bus teams around, no planes, even billet with local families.

“We could relocate two teams to each of the eight towns, giving the broadcasters a modest headache of how to broadcast in four regional places across each weekend with two matches in each town.”

Russell Crowe and Rabbits coach Wayne Bennett. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVINGSource:AAP

Crowe said the money banked by the NSWRL and QRL during from State of Origin series could be used to fund the initiative, but acknowledged not every player might be on board with such a move.

Crowe’s advice comes with the NRL desperate not to hit pause on its season because it relies so heavily on getting paid by its TV broadcast partners.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys said suspending the season would have “catastrophic” financial impacts. It’s been reported the game only has the funds to survive for three months if the season goes on hiatus and the money stops rolling in because the NRL can no longer fulfil its obligations to provide content for Channel 9 and Fox Sports.


Earlier in the week Manly’s Addin Fonua-Blake said if players are fit and healthy, then they shouldn’t be forced to take a pay cut, even if the season stops because of coronavirus.

Now Wests Tigers recruit Joey Leilua has echoed his rival’s thoughts, saying there’s no way players should be forced to sacrifice part of their salary if drastic steps need to be taken in this unprecedented crisis.

Leilua, who joined the Tigers from Canberra this season, suggested if the NRL finds itself in dire straits financially then it should look in the mirror and ask how it’s been handling its money in recent years.

“I thought they were handling their money better but if they say it’s only going to last three months, then we are in trouble,” Leilua said.

“All the boys were like, ‘I better not be getting cut short because we have mortgages to pay and bills to pay’.

“I don’t know what is going to happen but I’m not all for that if we have to get a pay cut. We’d rather keep playing.

“But I’m sure there is some money in there with the revenue we’ve got, they should be saving money for when these things happen.”

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