As the 2020 NRL season draws closer, the inevitable predictions about who will make the top eight begin doing the rounds.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has announced the opening week of the 2020 season will be a dedicated Bushfire Appeal Round to raise money for those affected.
It comes as fellow sporting bodies AFL and Cricket Australia begin considerations to host special matches to aid the bushfire appeal, while Aussie NBA stars band together to donate $1 million to aid.
The NRL’s plan will form part of a whole-of-game approach.
Internal teams across the QRL, NSWRL and the RLPA have been formed to develop a plan to have the biggest possible impact.
Details are still being finalised but Greenberg has confirmed the dedicated opening round is just one element of a coordinated response from the major rugby league arms.
The NRL is also putting plans in place to honour and emergency services personnel and volunteers during the round.
“Our clubs and our players have so many links to these communities which have been impacted by these devastating bushfires,” Greenberg said on Wednesday.
“Everyone I have spoken to wants to make a difference, we all want to help.
“The most effective and efficient way to do that is together in one coordinated response – a response that is both meaningful and provides communities with the assistance they need as they repair and rebuild.
“We know that rugby league is an integral part of these communities and we can make a real difference when our various bodies work together as one and that’s exactly what we are doing – from country rugby league right up to our elite NRL clubs.”
The opening round of the season kicks off on March 12 between Parramatta and Canterbury at Bankwest Stadium, with matches being played in Canberra, Newcastle, Townsville and Wollongong, as well as in Sydney.
Already clubs have begun making individual donations to the cause.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs donated $50,000 while Penrith are hosting a fundraiser for the Rural Fire Service at Panthers Stadium on Saturday with an open training session and barbecue breakfast.