NRL has 208 million reasons to play extra games
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has confirmed the NRL is exploring a 16 or 18-round competition that stands to deliver a crucial $208 million windfall for the cash-strapped code.
The Sunday Mail can reveal the NRL's 16 coaches are pushing for an even number of rounds as V'landys prepares to meet with broadcasters Channel 9 and Fox Sports this week to thrash out a season schedule.
The initial thought was for all teams to play each other once, which would make for a 15-week regular season. But under that arrangement, some clubs would benefit from home-ground advantages under an 8-7 home-and-away split.
The biggest loser regardless is the Warriors, who will be playing away games for the rest of the year if they are given government permission to leave New Zealand next month for a May 28 restart.
Relive classic NRL matches from the 60s to today on KAYO SPORTS. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
By playing 16 or 18 games, the NRL will look at implementing a series of Rivalry rounds to maximise interest. The extra rounds could include derby-style blockbusters such as the Broncos versus the Cowboys, the Roosters taking on Souths and Parramatta facing the Bulldogs.
With each round worth $13 million from broadcasters - two rounds have already been played - an 18-week regular season is worth an additional $208m.
A 9-9 home-and-away format would give the NRL sufficient time to stage the grand final on Sunday, October 11, with Channel 9 particularly reluctant for the league to go into November.
"What we are talking about is everyone playing each other once and there may be some rivalry rounds on top of that. We are still working that out," V'landys said.
"I say Rivalry Rounds with an 'S'.
"There could be more than 16 rounds, we might have a few more actually, so that's a consideration for our Project Apollo team which they will work through (this) week."
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold will support any format but says there is a push for an even split of home matches.
"I don't think there will be an odd number of rounds," Seibold said.
"Trent Robinson (Roosters coach) spoke to the coaches and we're looking at an even number of rounds.
"In any case, that (the season structure) is not the most important thing.
"No-one is going to put club self-interests first. Everyone wants the NRL to get back up and running because it's the livelihood for all of us in the industry.
"I can't see anyone squabbling over games. We will do whatever we need to do. This puzzle hasn't been solved before and we just have to make it happen."
Originally published as NRL has 208 million reasons to play extra games