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Momentum growing for conference style revamp

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg says "there are no bad ideas" being explored by the game's innovation committee as momentum for a conference-style rescheduled season grows.

With an initial pay agreement agreed to by the RLPA, the Wayne Pearce-led committee is now investigating a raft of proposals around getting the NRL competition back under way in 2020.

The committee will put forward their recommendations to the ARL Commission by the end of the month, with players and clubs warming to suggestions that involve isolating and relocating teams to ensure player safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several locations in Queensland including Gladstone have been proposed as potentially playing host to the entire competition, while the managing company of Suncorp Stadium has also tabled a scenario of several Magic Round fixtures being played throughout the state.

Sydney's Olympic Park is also being touted as a possible "bubble" precinct given the hotels and facilities available around ANZ Stadium where teams would be isolated from the general public, allowing for multiple clubs to be based and play games in a conference system.

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However, Sydney's increased population and higher number of coronavirus cases mean the NRL could look to move all players out of the NSW capital.

Canberra's AIS facilities and neighbouring GIO Stadium has also been presented as an option in the same scenario, while other ideas tabled include a wildcard weekend format so that 10 teams could potentially qualify for the final series.

RLPA boss Clint Newton has said players are willing to consider the difficult isolation procedures, potentially requiring several months away from their families, required for a conference-style proposal. understands that the Warriors playing group is also prepared to base themselves in Australia for an extended period to ensure they can play games if they are granted an exemption from the New Zealand and Australian governments' border restrictions.

The NRL's eight-man innovation committee will meet again next week to investigate the growing number of proposals alongside several possible return dates for the 2020 competition.

"The concept is as simple as trying to find innovative ways to get the game back," Greenberg told Fox Sports on Friday.

"Whether that's putting players in secure environments, or restructuring how the competition looks and feels, we're open to all suggestions.

"At the moment there are no bad ideas. We're going to model a number of those scenarios to put to the commission at the back end of April and we're going to push really hard.

"Obviously there are some things out of our control.

"We don't have a line of sight yet on what the government restrictions will look like or border controls on our teams in both Queensland and New Zealand, but what we don't want to do is not be ready."


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.