The Roar
The Roar


A new NRL draw, for the year 2019

(AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Roar Guru
17th October, 2016
11096 Reads

Each year the NRL draw causes debate, usually for the Sunday afternoon Sydney bias, or saturation of Broncos on a Thursday or Friday. But there’s also the persistent argument of an Origin standalone, the imbalance of not playing each team twice, terrible four and five-game rounds, and the players’ views on the season being too long.

Now that the footy seasons are over, there’s time on our hands, and what better way to waste it than solving some of sport’s big problems?

And there’s hardly a thing that needs more revamping than the NRL draw.

Here then, is a revamp of the NRL draw with a few interesting additions. Most of the ideas are stolen from other competitions, but at least they try something. The NRL’s ideas start at commercial jersey theme round tie-ins and stops at ruining their own competition around Origin time.

Could someone else do better? Probably. Is this idea the answer? Probably not. But it’s worth a try to do something different.

Strap yourself in and fast forward to the year 2019, as if any change is going to happen before then. Why 2019? Well the NRL doesn’t work too quickly, and time is needed for new teams and ideas.

Get rid of that Sydney UBD for Sunday afternoon football and see what we have come up with.

Two new teams
Included is two new teams to make it 18 in total. The game is ready to expand, and given the performances of the rookies in 2016, and the very few opportunities for Holden Cup players to break through, it is time to shelve the idea about a shrinking talent pool.

I say two new teams come from Perth and Central Coast. Arguments can be made for many othe places, especially a second south-east Queensland side.


Every team plays each other once
To remove unfair bias, each team plays each other once during the season, either home or away – that then alternates the next year.

Except for marquee rounds
There’s always commercial interests to consider. To ensure rivalries stay in place, three marquee rounds are added so teams keep their local derbies or rivalries. This can be debated and changed each season, and ours is a guide only.

In each marquee round there will be one team of the three that don’t have a game, so they will play the other unattached team in the next pool over. This will form the 17th regular game for each side.

Group A: Cowboys Broncos Titans
Group B: Perth Storm Warriors
Group C: Rabbitohs Roosters Tigers
Group D: Dragons Sharks Raiders
Group E: Bulldogs Eels Panthers
Group F: Manly Central Coast Knights

Johnathon Thurston North Queensland Cowboys Rugby League NRL Finals 2016

Super weekend
Idea stolen from the UK Super League where all teams play at one ground over one weekend. You only have to look to the UK to see the success of it. Even the sell out double-header at Lang Park earlier in the year is a sign the game and their fans are ready for it.

It would be drawn separately, possibly in a some big media stage show.

Country week
The best ideas are stolen, and why not steal another? This time form the Intrust Super Cup. The QRL’s Get In The Game Country Week sees all of their games in one round being taken to the bush – not just the next big regional city, but far flung places like Barcaldine, Mount Isa, Atherton, Stanthorpe to name just a few of the locations of the past few seasons.


With the extraordinary amount of money coming from TV deals, it’s about time the NRL gave back to its fans.

Once again, it would be a random draw.

Stand-alone Origin
Simply a must, and played on a Sunday night.

If the argument about Sunday night not being good enough for Origin comes up, well then move the NRL grand final back to Sunday afternoon 3pm.

No split rounds, no rubbish rounds of four or five games, or Origin-player-free rounds. Players are paid very handsomely for playing Origin, and currently some of them back up within three days. With some fair planning, most should get at least five days rest.

On the Friday and Saturday nights we’d have the continuing of the Pacific Nations Tests between Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea. Instead of a one-off double header, this will continue into a round robin series, and a final and third-place play off.

Number of round, games
So ultimately the players will end up playing three fewer rounds, but with two extra teams and the expansion of the Pacific Nations Tests there is ultimately three more games up for grabs for broadcasters. Four Nations and World Cup have not been included as they wouldn’t change under our proposal.

Game Rounds – Rounds x Games = Total Games
Final Series 1 x 9 (9)
Regular Rounds 24 x 8 (192)
Origins 3 x 1 (3)
Internationals 1 x 3 (3)
Total 207


Match Round – Rounds x Games = Total Games
Final Series 1 x9 (9)
Regular Rounds 16 x 9 (144)
Marquee Rounds 3 x 9 (27)
Super/Country Weekend 2 x 9 (18)
Origin/Internationals 4 x 3 (12)
Total 210

Day allocation
A simple one they could do now – ensure each club gets one home game for each free-to-air timeslot. If there are no Origin interruptions it means there is a Thursday, Friday, and Sunday for all teams, and a few left over to argue about.

The days games are played on would follow 2017 with Monday moving to Friday night. The extra game would be played at 6-7pm on the Sunday night.

In detail
Week Ending Round
Sunday, 24 March 2019 Marquee Round 1
Sunday, 31 March 2019 Regular Round 1
Sunday, 7 April 2019 Regular Round 2
Sunday, 14 April 2019 Regular Round 3
Sunday, 21 April 2019 Super Weekend
Sunday, 28 April 2019 Regular Round 4
Sunday, 5 May 2019 International Round/Pacific Round 1
Sunday, 12 May 2019 Regular Round 5
Sunday, 19 May 2019 Regular Round 6
Sunday, 26 May 2019 Regular Round 7
Sunday, 2 June 2019 State of Origin 1/Pacific Round 2
Sunday, 9 June 2019 Regular Round 8
Sunday, 16 June 2019 Regular Round 9
Sunday, 23 June 2019 State of Origin 2/Pacific Round 3
Sunday, 30 June 2019 Regular Round 10
Sunday, 7 July 2019 Regular Round 11
Sunday, 14 July 2019 State of Origin 3/Pacifc Finals
Sunday, 21 July 2019 Marquee Round 2
Sunday, 28 July 2019 Regular Round 12
Sunday, 4 August 2019 Regular Round 13
Sunday, 11 August 2019 Country Week
Sunday, 18 August 2019 Regular Round 14
Sunday, 25 August 2019 Regular Round 15
Sunday, 1 September 2019 Regular Round 16
Sunday, 8 September 2019 Marquee Round 3
Sunday, 15 September 2019 Finals Week 1
Sunday, 22 September 2019 Finals Week 2
Sunday, 29 September 2019 Finals Week 3
Sunday, 6 October 2019 Grand Final