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Greenberg confident NRL can complete season in calendar year

CEO Todd Greenberg remains confident the 2020 season will return with the NRL still aiming to complete the competition in its entirety and potentially using the entire calendar year to do so.

The seismic announcement to suspend matches due to expert advice around the coronavirus pandemic leaves the game in a "catastrophic" position according to ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys, with just two rounds able to be completed before it became unsafe for players to do so.

Monday's decision was made with no definitive return date in place.

With international and domestic border lockdowns making the logistics of running a competition – even mooted shifts for the entire NRL operation to North Queensland – increasingly difficult, the NRL maintains "all options are still on the table" regarding when games will kick off again.

The ARL has discussed the possibility of matches being played as late as November and December should it again become safe for players to do so, potentially allowing an entire NRL season to be played and broadcast obligations to be met, though contingency plans around a shorter season of as few as 15 rounds have also been explored.

NRL suspends season in wake of COVID-19 outbreak

"We've got scenarios that we might not start until much, much later in the season but we're still confident of getting a season away," Greenberg said.

"No one knows what's ahead of us … We look forward to returning to the Telstra Premiership as soon as it is safe to do so.

"We cannot say with any certainty what the future holds, but the rugby league community as a whole will continue to work through this."

Greenberg has previously ruled out the potential of playing midweek games in a condensed competition due to player workload concerns.

The AFL on Sunday suspended its competition until at least June, as have the NRL's feeder competitions run by the NSWRL and QRL.

RLPA boss Clint Newton said players have shown their commitment to rugby league's cause in recent weeks and would not be perturbed by potentially playing well into the summer months if games are allowed to resume.

"The players have demonstrated over the last couple of weeks that they will do anything for this game," Newton said.

"That remains at the forefront of all their minds. So provided it's safe and based on the expert advice to continue to play or restart play, they will do all they can and they've demonstrated that in the last couple of weeks."

Significantly, the reluctant call to suspend the NRL falls before round three, falling short of the game's next cash injection from broadcasters on April 1 by one week.

V'landys has said previously that broadcasters Foxtel and Nine could not be expected to fulfil the regular instalments from the $1.8 billion TV rights deal without games being played.

Also critical to the NRL's finances is this year's State of Origin series, which has long been the jewel in the game's crown with a value estimated at around $100 million a series.

Every try from Round 2

Both V'landys and Greenberg spoke of rugby league's ability to endure, with powerbrokers to meet with broadcasters later this week.

"Rugby league will survive in some way," V'landys said.

"I can't guarantee it will be in the same way it is at the moment. No one knows. No one knows how long this pandemic is going to last.

"We're ready for the worst and we are going to look at dealing with the worst. That's exactly what we will do in the next couple of weeks."

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.