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V'landys: 'Why wouldn't we restart? That's the bottom line'

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys is confident the NRL would avoid the "catastrophic" consequences he had predicted now the Telstra Premiership is set to resume on May 28.

When he and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg announced the competition was to be suspended last month, V'landys said the implications for a lost season due to the coronavirus pandemic would be devastating for the sport.

He was adamant the NRL could get back on its feet quickly and his next assignment was to consult with the broadcast partners - Channel Nine and Fox Sports. Nine on Thursday heavily criticised the NRL for its financial management in recent years.

"We need to speak to our broadcast partners, which we will be doing as quickly as we can. We want to come to an arrangement with them so they're happy," he told, adding that the structure of the draw for the remainder of the season will be finalised after those discussions are held with the networks.

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The NRL has confirmed State of Origin will be played as a three-game series and the grand final will remain in its traditional format, played as a single match in Sydney.

Games will still be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future until government bans are restricted while guidelines on travel to and from training and match-day venues also need to be formulated.

May 28 can't come quick enough for fans but V'landys said there would be a mountain of work to be done in the interim to ensure the success of the season restart.

"For us we wanted something to strive to and we wanted to have a recommencement date so we can do a road map on what needs to be done," he said.

"There's a lot of work to be done between now and that date, however we are very confident we will get there."

V'landys said the infection rate had dropped significantly from 22.27 per cent when the NRL shut down its season to a current figure of 1.34 per cent.

"Hopefully in another seven weeks that's going to be substantially lower than that. The risk is minimal.

"Our two priorities have always been: No.1 - the players' health is not compromised in any way and No.2 - no risk to the community. By the 28th of May that will happen. The infection rate is continuing to come down.

"The governments have done a great job. If people continue to observe social distancing measures, that will go down even further."

When asked about critics who say the NRL is rushing to return, he said: "People are entitled to their view but I have to act in the best interests of the game.

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"The game needs to be played but not only for the game but our fans, the people who have supported us for many years. We want to give them their relaxation and their escape back.

"The players want to play. They want to earn their money, it's their job, along with all the ancillary staff that work in and around our game - there's tens of thousands of them.

"There's no risk to the players - why wouldn't we do it? That's the bottom line."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels 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.

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