The new NRL season draw for 2020 has been revealed with Melbourne Storm presented with what appears to be one of the toughest paths to the September-October finals series.
Under the new format, which picks up from round three with all clubs retaining their points earned from the first two rounds, each team plays five of their rivals twice and the other 10 clubs just once to decide the top eight.
Storm’s double-ups are last year’s grand finalists, Sydney Roosters and Canberra, as well as South Sydney, who finished third in 2019, and arch-rivals Manly, who were sixth.
The other two-game opponents are the Newcastle Knights, who have won both of their games so far in 2020 under new coach Adam O’Brien.
Storm’s home games have been spread across the available timeslots, led by three Sunday 4.05 kickoffs.
The team will have to deal with two of the short five-day turnarounds between games (NRL average 1.8), seven six-day turnarounds (NRL average 5.6) and 10 seven-day turnarounds (NRL average 12.2)
Other features of the new 20-round draw for Storm are:
Twelve matches on free-to-air TV on Channel Nine/Gem, the second highest in the competition behind Brisbane with 15
Five home games in a seven-week stretch from rounds seven to 13.
Two of the last three matches at AAMI Park – against the Cowboys (round 18) and Wests Tigers (round 19).
A tough back-to-back away double against the Roosters and Eels in rounds 14-15. No trip to Townsville to play in the new QCB Stadium. Just the one game against Brisbane Broncos – at Suncorp Stadium in round 11.