Surprise results, teams answering their critics and a couple of big blowouts. Round 13 had it all, so let’s get into another edition of NRL talking points.
The NRL insists both them and their broadcast partners are united as the game pushes towards its planned May 28 resumption from the coronavirus crisis.
Chairman Peter V’landys emerged from lengthy meetings with the Nine Network and Foxtel on Friday, as talks around the season’s structure continue.
The NRL were tight-lipped on the outcome of the meetings, with all three parties agreeing to keep developments confidential.
“It was an extremely constructive meeting,” chairman Peter V’landys told AAP.
“It all went extremely well. The partners are united.”
It comes after both Nine and Foxtel had different aspirations for the game’s return.
Nine have told the stock exchange they stand to save as much as $130 million if the game doesn’t return this year. They just last week lashed out at the league, accusing them of long-term mismanagement in an angry public statement.
Fox meanwhile desperately want live content back on the screens, both for their pay TV model and Kayo streaming service.
It’s also believed Nine would like to regain exclusive rights to some matches, while there are questions over the structure of each weekend’s schedule could change.
V’landys has also previously said he is open to negotiating an extended TV deal beyond 2022, which would need the cooperation of both parties. The next week now shapes as a crucial one for the NRL.
While still six weeks from a return, talks between broadcasters will continue while an ARL Commission meeting is also scheduled. The Project Apollo committee will then reconvene on Wednesday, where it’s hoped a clearer structure for the season will be put in place.
The league are also set for further talks with the Warriors, as they attempt to map out their return to Australia. Part of that will be trying to secure an exemption for the New Zealand based club to arrive in Australia, with borders currently closed to overseas citizens.
The Warriors had initially planned on leaving Auckland on Sunday, but that now won’t happen. It means clubs face either a shorter training period than they expected before the opening games, or the prospect of the Warriors missing the opening weeks and catching up matches later.
Another option could also include the Warriors training while in their two-week quarantine window on arriving in Australia, but that too would require government approval.
Further afield, the NRL must also sort if interstate players will be able to bring their family into camp in Sydney, and other measures surrounding player safety and injury support.