new art for DT homepage on the footy
new art for DT homepage on the footy

10 biggest beneficiaries from NRL lockdown

It's been 48 days since the Eels polished off the Titans in the last piece of NRL action of 2020 and sport in Australia was effectively put on hold by the coronavirus.

The time off has given the game a chance to reflect and, in some cases, implement some badly needed change. It also presented both players and clubs with a second chance.

Here are the winners from the NRL's enforced break.

 

Peter V'Landys is overseeing the NRL’s return to competition.
Peter V'Landys is overseeing the NRL’s return to competition.

1 NRL HQ

The coronavirus shutdown has put rugby league on its knees financially, but it's shone a light on financial mismanagement.

The NRL has had a chance to critically look at how they run their business - notably operating costs - after it was revealed they were spending $500,000 a day.

NRL clubs burnt through $396.7 million from 2010-2019.

That won't be happening in 2020, says ARLC chairman Peter V'landys.

"We're not just giving money away without due diligence to ensure clubs don't have an underlying problem that they need to rectify first."

 

2 Kieran Foran can revive career

Foran used the game's shutdown to fully recover from a shoulder reconstruction.

The Kiwi international has also battled a raft of off-field issues, but Bulldogs coach Dean Pay believes the playmaker can recapture his best.

"Kieran is training well, jumping into his weights and running," Pay said.

"He will have to do some contact work, but it is all looking positive.

"If he handles the contact, I don't see any reason why he won't play this year." 

Kieran Foran has benefited from the game’s enforced absence.
Kieran Foran has benefited from the game’s enforced absence.

 

3 State of Origin in three consecutive weeks

Playing a three-game Origin series across three consecutive weekends in November will be the survival of the fittest in a shortened, more intense version of the normal six-week campaign.

Maroons coach Kevin Walters is a huge fan.

"It would be enormous for that time of the year. It would be something new for the players, but I don't think the passion, drive or desire from either state would waiver. It's Origin."

 

4 NRL season not impacted by Origin

As my colleague Phil Rothfield correctly stated, the best thing about the resumption of the NRL on May 28 is State of Origin will not ruin six weeks of the premiership mid-season - instead being played over three weeks in November.

The superstars of the game won't be in camp with the NSW or Queensland Origin teams or below their best after having to back up from a brutal midweek game.

No more split rounds, understrength teams and at times crappy NRL football. 

Origin will be played at the end of the season.
Origin will be played at the end of the season.

 

5 No questions at all

A modified NRL season with less rounds compared with the traditional 26-round competition has prompted experts to claim the 2020 premiership will always have a question mark attached to the premiers.

Canberra captain Jarrod Croker - losing grand finalists last year to the Sydney Roosters - doesn't agree, saying he'd happily lift the trophy without any worries over its legitimacy.

"I think if you gave anyone a premiership ring, you could try and do an asterisk, but I don't think anyone would care," he said.

"I certainly wouldn't be worried if that was me."

 

6 Bulldogs can move on

The Bulldogs' embarrassing schoolgirl scandal involving Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera was disgraceful viewing.

Coach Dean Pay is ready to make amends to fans - on the field at least - with his team.

"We've done a lot of hard work over the last couple of years to get ourselves in a position where some of our kids are getting more games under their belt and we want to continue that," Pay said.

"The rest of the year is an opportunity to just keep getting better."

 

Darius Boyd is looking to end his career in style.
Darius Boyd is looking to end his career in style.

7 Darius' reprieve

The coronavirus threatened to prematurely end Darius Boyd's career, but the competition resumption has given him a chance to go out in style.

Brisbane started the season 2-0 before the shutdown, so a dream farewell could be on the cards.

Boyd is feeling thankful.

"I owe rugby league a lot," he said.

"It has been very good to me and I will forever be grateful for that."

 

8 Warriors' country boost

The New Zealand Warriors basing themselves in the NSW country town of Tamworth is a significant result for a cash-strapped community battling the recent drought.

The Warriors will stay at the Mercure Hotel, a 100-metre walk from the local football field, Scully Park. 

The country music capital of Australia has been given a huge boost.
The country music capital of Australia has been given a huge boost.

 

9 Bush footy reborn

"The NRL doesn't care about us in the bush," Group 11 secretary Paul Loxley recently told The Sunday Telegraph.

That's about to change under the game's new regime.

For too long, league officials in the Big Smoke have neglected bush footy and left its survival to chook raffles and gate takings.

While some country clubs have overspent on player wages, there must be a greater focus on preserving rugby league's breeding ground.

 

10 Erasing demons

This season was being hailed as Parramatta's best chance to break their premiership hoodoo after last tasting title success in 1986.

Prior to the competition shutdown, the Eels burst out of the blocks with two wins.

 

Originally published as 10 biggest beneficiaries from NRL's lockdown