Phil Gould believes there’s some wishful thinking at the NRL by coming up with dates that would see the season able to continue, and is sceptical we’ll see any more footy in 2020.
The NRL suspended the season after two rounds because of coronavirus and league bosses have been working overtime to come up with contingency plans in the hope players will return to the field later this year.
This week clubs were told the earliest the season could possibly resume is in June while if it doesn’t restart by September 1, then this year’s campaign will likely be abandoned entirely.
The Australian government has announced strict self-isolation measures and is telling people to practise social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. Gould says the uncertainty about what developments would see the government relax these restrictions and give the all clear for life to return to normal means the NRL can’t really know if or when the season might resume.
Gould, the former NSW Origin coach and Penrith Panthers supremo, said there’s no definitive answer about what progress needs to be made in the fight against coronavirus for normal service to resume, so the NRL is simply hoping for the best by revealing possible restart dates for the season.
“What constitutes a green light to go back to life the way we knew it?” Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast this week. “They’re (the NRL) romancing, they’re romancing.
“It’s not going to be then (the months the NRL suggested where a restart would allow the season to continue) because … answer the question – what constitutes a restart?
“When is the government going to say, ‘Go back to what you were doing, no one’s going to be in danger of catching this virus’?
Gould holds grave concerns for the game.Source:Supplied
“Until the virus is contained, or until there is a vaccine to stop other people form contracting it, when’s the restart point? I can’t see a restart point, and that’s the hard part.
“So all this speculation, if we can get the competition started by June or July or September, or play until Christmas, it’s all just romance thinking at the moment.
“It’s words for the sake of words.
“Rugby league has been shut down. We are now subject to everything else that’s happening in the rest of the world and particularly here in Australia.”
The NRL has said it doesn’t know when or if the season will resume, but is keeping all options on the table just in case there’s a chance of getting back on the park.
The league will be desperate to see at least some action, because by suspending the season the game is losing out on TV broadcast revenue and slipping towards financial ruin.
Gould says even though the NRL has the best intentions with its future planning, it may all be for nothing if the government doesn’t give the rest of society the green light to return to normal in the months ahead.
“Rugby league won’t reboot until the government says that everything can reboot,” Gould said.
“They (the NRL) have got all these scenarios of how many games they could play and what they could provide and what that would be worth to them financially.
“But that’s not meaning they’re going to start at those times.”
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