NRL’s bizarre ploy for safe Origin crowds

The NRL is considering the possibility of allowing rugby league fans to attend the highly-anticipated State of Origin series, but only if they let the organisation track their movements on an app.

Origin will not be scheduled until October at the earliest, but as the coronavirus infection rate drops in Australia, the NRL is looking at potential strategies for endorsing crowd attendance.

When the NRL returns in late May, spectators understandably will not be permitted, and as Australia continues to flatten the curve, delaying Origin increases the chance of a crowd being in attendance.

Condition for entry to Origin is entirely dependent on forthcoming social distancing restrictions, but ARLC chair Peter V’landys has mentioned a bizarre strategy for allowing NRL fans to witness the sport’s showpiece event.

“We put people on an app and if you’re a really hardcore supporter and you can stay at home for 14 days and isolate yourself and we track you on the app, you can go to the game,” V’landys told Triple M on Saturday.

The NSW Blues captain Boyd Cordner celebrates with his teammates after receiving the State of Origin Shield in 2019.Source:AAP

Broadcast partners Channel 9 and Foxtel agreed to a May 28th restart date on Friday, with the competition’s structure to be finalised early next week.

Origin traditionally takes place during the mid-season, but V’landys confirmed the three-match series would be pushed back to after the premiership’s conclusion.

“State of Origin will be after the grand final,” V’landys said.

“We need to consult the players and the clubs naturally, but that is our plan.”

Channel 9 initially resisted a belated Origin series, knowing it would clash with the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup.

V’landys believes NRL clubs featuring Origin squad members would be considerably disadvantaged if their star players were absent during the condensed premiership.

“Because there are less rounds that will be played, no matter where we land on the rounds, there will still be less than there has been in previous years,” V’landys said.

“You want to leave the player roster for the clubs to be able to compete to get into the finals.”

V’landys also revealed the NRL might look into the possibility of rewarding Australian hardworking health workers by granting them access to Origin matches.

“We may not have crowds of a normal State of Origin, but a limited crowd with social distancing, and there’s a few ideas we have in rewarding the emergency workers,” V’landys said.

“That came from one of the TV stations, which I think is a very good idea.”

With AAP

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