Coronavirus: NRL planning to restart on May 28

The NRL is planning to resume on May 28, the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has announced.

The competition was suspended after just two rounds on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with earlier games having taken place behind closed doors.

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said this week he was confident of the season restarting on June 1 but after a call including representatives of all 16 clubs on Thursday it was decided to resume even sooner.

ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce, who is heading up the innovations committee, said: "I'm pleased to announce we're planning a competition start on May 28.

"The details on the competition structure we haven't got yet because the landscape is changing around government boundaries. That will feed into the complexity structure.

"Today what we landed on was a starting date.

"We haven't finalised what that [competition] looks like yet. Why we want to firm up a date is to give certainty to players and their schedules, clubs and thousands of people who are out of work through clubs and millions of fans.

"It's a mark for everyone to work towards that's associated with the game."

The NRL has been keen to find solutions to get the league up and running as soon as possible due to fears of the financial implications on its teams.

On Friday, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said all ideas were on the table, while the NRL and Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) also reached an agreement on a revised pay deal for players last week, ensuring two months' worth of wages and payments.

It was also agreed that due to the postponement of the 2020 season players will surrender five out of 12 months' salary if the NRL is unable to resume.

A return to playing would be a significant boost and Pearce said the decision was reached due to a decreasing rate of infection in Australia.

"Because we're talking about seven weeks away the landscape is changing significantly," Pearce said.

"It was only a few days ago it was looking like we were having to go into an isolation bubble scenario with the support of a state government who are doing a fantastic job.

"The rate of increase in infections has come right down."

Pearce, who said players had been involved in the process, also stated there are no plans as yet to change the structure of the league this season.

"We're leaning towards a competition structure that looks more aligned with what we've currently got. We're not going to the conference scenario at the moment," he said.

"We've currently got support from the New South Wales government in terms of if we adhere to public health guidelines and make sure our players follow those guidelines we are able to train and play provided we have strict measures around testing the players and put other protocols in place to minimise the risk of infection within the playing group and community."