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NRL confirms new time slot for Origin series

The NRL has confirmed the Holden State of Origin series will be played at the end of the season after confirming a 20-round competition will start on May 28 with the Grand Final to be played on October 25.

The news is a tremendous boost for the NSWRL which has remained confident the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues would get an opportunity to defend the Shield and look to become the first NSW team since 2005 to win three Origin series in a row.

The NSWRL announced last week the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, Ron Massey Cup, Sydney Shield and grassroots football would resume on July 18 after they were forced to cancel and suspend several competitions over the coronavirus crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had had a devastating effect across the world and there are people from all walks of life who have suffered from it,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.

“The NSWRL will continue to follow the advice from governments and health authorities and we look forward to being able to resume some of our senior competitions and grassroots rugby league in July.

“Today’s news confirming the Origin series will be played after the NRL Grand Final is something the NSWRL will look forward to and work towards and will give fans something to cheer about in what has been a difficult year for everyone.”

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) Chair Peter V’landys today confirmed the details about the NRL competition resuming after extensive consultation with broadcast partners, clubs, and key stakeholders.

The first two rounds of the competition will be counted and the current competition ladder remains in place when games resume.

The competition draw will be determined in the next two weeks, including timing of State of Origin which will be conducted after the Grand Final.

Mr V’landys thanked Nine CEO Hugh Marks and Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany for backing the return of rugby league.

“Today is a landmark day for rugby league in 2020,” Mr V’landys said. “This is a great outcome for our players, fans, partners and stakeholders and I’m extremely appreciative for the cooperation and support from Hugh Marks and Patrick Delany. Both have always acted in good-spirit and have demonstrated how partners work together."

Training will recommence for all clubs on May 4 and stringent biosecurity measures, known as Project Apollo Protocols, will be introduced for players, club officials and staff. These protocols will be more strict than the current public health guidelines and players will face sanctions if they breach the protocols.

The New Zealand Warriors are expected to arrive in Australia on Sunday and it is anticipated they will serve 14-days quarantine in Tamworth. The NRL is continuing to work with federal and state governments on player travel and border permissions.

Mr V’landys said it was clearly safer to play now than what it was when the competition proceeded in Round 2.

“It’s safer now to play then it was in Round 2 when we were playing. The daily infection rate in NSW was 25.79% when the last game was played. It has been now less than 1% in NSW for the last 18 days and is continuing to drop. There has also been a significant improvement in the recovery rate, being 75% in NSW and 83% in Australia.

“Our players will be safer under our protocols than they would be as regular members of the community.”

The NRL’s working group, Project Apollo, will meet tomorrow to continue preparations to resume the season.