NRL’s rush to produce new-look draw
Peter V'landys says the NRL is literally working around the clock to produce a new season draw as broadcaster demands and anti-vaxxers hold up the tenuous process.
The NRL is rushing to finalise a new-look 20-round competition in time for the May 28 season relaunch and may have to release the entire schedule after the premiership restarts.
The draw is generally a logistical nightmare, usually taking months to produce by a Canadian firm due to the numerous factors that have to be taken into account.
The NRL is attempting to produce a balanced competition in a matter of weeks and is still negotiating a new broadcast deal with Channel 9 and Foxtel a fortnight out from the mooted start.
Despite cutting it fine, ARL Commission chairman V'landys remains confident the NRL will kick-off on May 28 even if it means only settling on the first few rounds of games and finalising the draw at a later date.
"We're working on it to get it done as quickly as possible, even if we've got an indication of a couple of rounds," V'landys said.
"People don't realise how complicated it is. It's very complicated. It uses an algorithm and it takes 24 hours each time you do one.
"We've got to let the broadcasters do their bit and then we do our bit and it's very complicated."
The NRL must try to appease the demands of broadcasters and requests of clubs while creating a fair competition in a short period of time.
The banning of players who have rejected the flu vaccination from playing in Queensland has also thrown a spanner in the works.
The NRL wants to retain the integrity of the premiership and not having some of the game's top players, like Canberra's Josh Papalii, allowed to play in Queensland has created unwanted headaches at League Central.
V'landys said he was focused on finalising the broadcast deal and draw within the next week.
"The draw and finalising the broadcast deals are the two big ones for me," he said.
"If we can start on the 28th of May that will be fantastic. There's no reason why we won't.
"We said the infection rate (of COVID-19) would be near zero by the 28th of May and sure enough it is."
The North Queensland Cowboys are one team sweating on the release of the draw due to their taxing travel commitments.
With teams to travel to and from games on the same day, the Cowboys have requested only night games to ensure they don't have to leave Townsville unnecessarily early.
The Cowboys flew to Sydney on a game day charter flight for their Round 2 match against the Bulldogs and won.
Cowboys football chief Peter Parr said the club had responded well to the travel changes.
"With the Warriors now in Australia, we will have to travel more than any other team," he said.
"We are used to that, but we would like some consideration given to avoiding 3pm games at least because that would require a very early start with travel.
"We feel that would compromise our preparation somewhat. We also have to take into account that Sydney clubs have to travel to Townsville as well.
"We need to talk to the players in more depth about how they handled the travel for that Bulldogs game (in Round 2).
"There's no doubt it went well. Doing it once is one thing, but doing that for the next four or five months will be the test."
Originally published as NRL's rush to produce new-look draw