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No byes in new draw gives coaches headaches over player workload

The absence of mid-year representative fixtures in the revamped Telstra Premiership is set to benefit clubs who won't be forced to field depleted line-ups for the first time in 40 years.

All clubs have been forced to juggle their representative players' workloads and fielded inexperienced outfits during split bye rounds over recent years, particularly the likes of back-to-back premiers Sydney Roosters, the Broncos and St George Illawarra. 

The Roosters controversially rested captain Boyd Cordner in the first two rounds due to fears about his heavy schedule due to the added workload that comes with captaining NSW and Australia.

However, all teams will now need to manage the prospect of juggling their players loads for a 22 week-in-week-out period of 18 straight rounds and the finals with clubs not being spared a week or two off halfway through the year.

Newcastle's slump towards the 2019 finals series began in round 16, a week before Origin III, after they lost Mitchell Pearce, David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby to interstate duty.

They never recovered from the moment they were beaten by a near full-strength Warriors line-up on home turf, losing their next five games to fall out of the top eight.

All of Cody Walker's tries

South Sydney finished third with a strong run towards the finals post-Origin but dropped seven of their 10 clashes in the middle of the season to coincide with the three-game Origin series and Pacific Test weekend.

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett rested several of his players over the period while it was evident that Damien Cook, who backed up two days after Origin I against the Knights in round 13, was physically worn out.

Cody Walker, who featured in the opening Origin game, was spared the chance to back up in that same game and the Rabbitohs playmaker believes the club will benefit now that Origin has been pushed back to the end of the season.

"You look at Cookie's loads during that period and Cam Murray's, we won't have to worry about that," Walker said.

"We've got a full season now to work on things. We haven't really thought about that but we didn't really do too well in the Origin period and it will probably be better for us."

Previously the Dragons were notorious for mid-year slumps after starting the season strong with a high representation in Origin not helping their cause.

The Cowboys managed Michael Morgan and Josh McGuire's workloads last season during the Origin period which included a direct flight home from Perth to North Queensland immediately after game two.

Given the craziness of the season at hand, Cowboys coach Paul Green said it was one less thing to worry about with the representative period a distant thought in the current climate.

"This is a season like no other so it's hard to compare to other seasons, [but] there's [usually] so many unknowns when you hit this part of the year," Green said.

"Sometimes you're dealing with injuries and Origin selections. It's always a tricky part of the year but now that we've got at least the first couple of games we'll get our head around that.

"It won't change too much for us, it's more the following week to have the game and work back from there and get back to our in-season preparation.

Paul Green reacts to new draw

"We'll have to approach the whole season differently but it's good to get your head around something.

"It will help with everyone's focus, you have something in your head to aim for down the track."

With no second-tier competition on offer for Green, he has previously stated all coaches would have to approach the unique circumstances of the new draw, rules and season differently when it comes to player workload.

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