NRL island seems like a tantalising reality dangling before us, teasing us with intrigue.
A hotel owner has formed the idea of the NRL in its entirety locking itself away in his hotel on Tangalooma Island, allowing the players to be shielded from the pandemic sweeping the globe. Once everyone is set up the plan seems to be to fly the teams to Brisbane and Sydney to play games in large empty stadiums.
This is the only way we can get the NRL happening before June and the plan has the potential to see games kick off in six weeks.
First off we should tackle the reality of a plan like this. The players, team staff of 16 NRL clubs, referees, TV broadcast crew, ground staff and their families and at least one TV station outside broadcast unit will all have to agree to lock down on NRL island for six months.
There would need to be at least a two-week quarantine period where all the people suddenly moved to NRL island self-isolate to make sure there are no COVID-19 cases already there. Then, of course, the island has to provide some sort of training facility for 16 clubs. I am not sure how that is possible but obstacles are made to be overcome.
Then there is the issue of sending teams to Brisbane and Sydney to play games. I am not sure if the NRL or this hotel owner understand what quarantine is but they can’t be flying all over the eastern seaboard and still say they are in quarantine.
What they need is a broadcast-ready field on the island itself. Playing games on the island not only saves significant amounts of cash in air travel but it also would be the only ground in the country where you could potentially have a crowd. What is the point of flying a thousand kilometres to play in a large empty stadium when you can just walk down the pebble footpath, past some palm trees and a gold fish pond, and play in front of a few thousand fans? These fans will be the other teams and their families but it will provide some atmosphere. Would it be weird if other teams were cheering?
Anyway, it would be better than music blaring out at an empty stadium for no reason. Understandably these crowds made up of other teams will get very sick of just going to games day after day but sacrifices need to be made for the good of the game.
Having these same high-profile fans turn up to each game, week after week, day after day, will create some tension, one of the other great pluses of NRL island.
Instead of losing money because of all the failed planning the NRL have put in place for most of its existence, this rigorous, realistic plan can keep the gravy train going.
NRL island will save the game.
It may sound absurd to try and attempt such an endeavour but we live in desperate times so it is a real possibility we will get some sort of NRL island in the near future.