Rugby League reporter @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: Could Super League stars and Quade Cooper make short-term moves?
As politicians and others discuss the NRL's restart plans, there are also disagreements over whether points earned so far should stand
Last Updated: 14/04/20 12:31pm
Jenna Brooks examines whether the NRL's restart date is too ambitious, why all points accumulated so far will stand, and the rumours around short-term moves for Super League stars and rugby union player Quade Cooper...
Restart date too ambitious?
The NRL continues its plans to restart on May 28, but not everyone is convinced this can happen.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, who is a passionate Cronulla Sharks supporter, has praised the sport's ambition.
However, he admits there is still some way to go before the game can be put back on.
"I like the ambition. I like that they're planning to try and get the show back on the road at least in some form," Morrison told The Today Show. "I like that they've got an ambitious date, but it will be subject to the health advice.
"There will be no special set of arrangements, the health advice is paramount and I'm sure they'll comply with it."
Meanwhile, the federal sports minister Richard Colbeck has questioned the likelihood of the game going ahead next month and urged all sporting codes to be cautious.
"I think it's a bit ambitious to be frank," Colbeck told ABC Radio. "If you consider the advice that we are still getting from people like (Australia's Chief Medical Officer) Brendan Murphy... they're the people who I think should be providing advice on these things.
"I think we need to be really cautious about the circumstances we are in. Yes, we are doing extremely well at the moment.
"But once the health authorities that are giving us advice give us the signal that we can start to relax some of those things, then we start considering that, but not before."
These are feelings shared by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has ruled Brisbane out of hosting a State of Origin game during the pandemic.
Palaszczuk has also said that, at this stage, border restrictions would not be eased for the NRL, with players and staff subject to 14 days quarantine every time they return to the state.
It is a decision that would see the three Queensland clubs forced to base themselves south of the border.
With the New Zealand Warriors in a similar situation, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has given his approval for all 16 teams to base themselves in NSW, in order to see the game return.
"I would certainly be happy to work with health in terms of teams coming here and undertaking reasonable isolation," Fuller said. "Social distancing and hygiene, the premier has said, will go on for not months, but years."
Despite Gold Coast Titans CEO Steve Mitchell admitting it will be a huge sacrifice for the club, coached by former St Helens boss Justin Holbrook, he confirmed they are prepared to relocate.
"We want to get the competition, for the greater good for the code, up and going again, not at the detriment of health and their community's greater general well-being, that's first and fundamentally paramount," Mitchell said.
"But we have to make sacrifices in order to get the competition going. If that means we need to go through some adversity and some different obstacles that we need to work through, so be it."
Points will stand
For the second time in a week, the Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys has confirmed points earned in the first two rounds of the season will stand.
The declaration comes after Sydney Roosters boss Nick Politis urged that all points should be scrapped to ensure the 'integrity' of the game.
Politis' stunning demand has received plenty of criticism, given the reigning premiers are 12th on the ladder having lost both games.
Undefeated Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has responded, claiming Politis was "just trying to look after his own club".
"Our season was postponed after the first two rounds, it wasn't scrapped," Bellamy told the Herald Sun. "I'm thinking if it's postponed, then we continue on as we did before.
"I think (Politis' demand) is unfair. You're going to be upsetting a lot of fans. The determination was our competition was postponed... we didn't say that we are ending this competition and starting another one later on, it was we are postponing our season."
Super League targets
As it stands, it looks like the NRL will get started before Super League and reports suggest the competition down under is going to capitalise on this by poaching Super League talent on short-term deals.
Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Folau, James Maloney, Blake Austin and Jackson Hastings have all been earmarked.
But would the likes of Toronto - who signed SBW for £5m - risk their marquee man, who has recently undergone knee surgery, getting injured again while playing in another competition for another club?
Before Folau was given another chance by the Catalans Dragons, a potential return to the NRL for the controversial player was met by resistance from the governing body. That resistance still stands.
Despite this, it's believed at least one NRL club will approach the Folau camp in the coming days.
It is not just Super League the NRL could be targeting though, as Australia rugby union star Quade Cooper admitted he was open to joining an NRL club on a short-term deal.
But despite Cooper keeping busy training with Brisbane player Tevita Pangai Jr, it will not be the Broncos who sign him, given they have already filled their 30-man roster.