NRL planning ‘round zero’ in the US for 2020 draw

THE NRL are still working towards the prospect of opening the 2020 season in the United States.

Efforts to open 2019 with a so-called ‘round-zero” fixture fell short and the games were non-existent when the NRL’s draw was released on Thursday, but the project hasn’t been abandoned.

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How the new NRL draw was made0:00

NRL: CEO Todd Greenberg says a lot of the 2019 draw drafting was centred around player workloads with no team having to make more than three five-day turnarounds.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg labelled the fixture to be too much of a financial risk for 2019, but further works are being undertaken to ensure the first premiership game played in the USA doesn’t just become a pipe dream.

“We got really close to it in this draw but in simple terms we couldn’t make the numbers stack up and I wasn’t prepared to fund it and put the game’s money at risk,” Greenberg said.

“If we’re going to do it we need to have a very strong business plan that makes sure the game’s protected financially.

“We’ve seen what’s happened with private promoters trying to take games to the United States… We want to do it, but we want to do it under the right terms.”

Greenberg’s comments after the Denver Test experiment ran at a loss and collapsed following this year’s first match, as England and New Zealand weren’t paid the agreed six-figure sums by the promoter.

The NRL aren’t prepared to go down the same path, and will organise the concept themselves and without the backing of promoters if it goes ahead in 2020.

“Like you’ve seen ever since we’ve had the hands on the controls here, there’s not a lot work being given to promoters,” Greenberg said.

“We’re doing things ourselves.

“That’s certainly my philosophy. We do it ourselves, we hold the cards and then we reap the rewards.”

Justin Hodges: Broncos want new direction0:00

NRL: Former Broncos back Justin Hodges says the club wanted to go in a new direction with the appointment of Anthony Seibold.

The NRL boss pointed to Saturday’s sold-out Tonga Test against the Kangaroos in Auckland as evidence his organisation were willing to take risks for the growth of the game.

Meanwhile one of the NRL’s other pet projects for next year – the Sunday State of Origin in Perth – is already close to selling out.

No tickets are currently available for the 65,000-seat Optus Stadium, with the NRL to release a small amount closer to the date.

It comes with the league desperate to ensure the success of the stand-alone representative round to manage player welfare through the middle of the season.

“We saw it as a real bonus last year in that it took some sting out of player workloads through Origin for the clubs,” Greenberg said.

“Yes, we want the State of Origin on Sunday night to be successful which it will be in Perth.

“But equally it’s about trying to protect the competition through that as well.”

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Originally published as NRL planning ‘round zero’ in the US for 2020 draw

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