ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has explained why the NRL is set to move the State of Origin series to the end – rather than the middle – of an abbreviated 2020 season.
And he is also interested in looking at whether an app can be used to make it safe for fans to attend games or if the NRL should pursue Blues coach Brad Fittler's ballot idea if a limited number of supporters are allowed at State of Origin matches.
V’landys told Triple M on Saturday that after he and league’s two broadcast partners – Nine and Foxtel – met on Friday and agreed on May 28 as the return date of the Telstra Premiership, they then discussed how many rounds would be involved and where Origin would sit.
"We’ve got a few little details to finalise with the broadcasters and hopefully that’ll be done next week," he told Triple M.
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But as far as Origin went, V’landys said there were two main driving factors for holding it after the grand final.
"There’s two reasons for it to be at the end of the season. One is the possibility that we’ll have crowds – not the crowds we have a normal State of Origin but a limited crowd with the social distancing," he said.
"And there’s a few ideas we have in rewarding the emergency workers, and that came from one of the TV stations, which I think is a very good idea," V'landys said, not specifying if that meant both medical and bushfire front-line workers.
But he’s taken a lead from Fittler’s idea last week that a ballot could be held to source the fans, who would attend.
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"There’s another [idea] where we put people on an app if you’re a hard-core supporter, and you can stay at home for 14 days and isolate yourself and we track you on the app, then you can go to the game," he added.
The second reason for Origin post-season was fairness across the 16 clubs.
"But for me it’s also about the integrity and authenticity of the competition. Because there is less rounds that will be played, no matter where we land on the rounds, there will be less than in previous years," he said.
"You want to leave the player roster for the clubs to be able to get into the finals. By having State of Origin mid-season, with less rounds, those teams that provide the majority of players will be at a disadvantage.
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"So in order to make it credible and authentic, that’s one of the reasons that drove me to have it at the end of the year. It gives every club an opportunity to make the finals."
Following Todd Greenberg’s departure as CEO on Monday, V’landys is more than happy to keep NRL chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo as acting chief executive for as long as is needed.
"Our focus at the moment is recommencing the season and the cost structure of the game. The cost structure is not sustainable. It was going to be a train crash at some time – the coronavirus has just brought it forward," he said.
"Those things have to be done now. We can’t wait three or four months until a new CEO comes in. I’m going to take my time with the appointment of a new CEO because I think our priority at the moment is to get the game started."