“I’ve spoken to some of the players about it and they’re already pumped,” Fittler said. “The Origin series would be a good way of kicking things off, to show everyone that rugby league can lock down two teams for an extended period. And if that works, it could be a precursor to the rest of the NRL starting at some stage.
“We could base ourselves at our traditional location at Kingscliff, the Maroons could stay at Sanctuary Cove where they have in the past. I think it would work if done right.”
The most interesting twist could be the selection of Tongan players after their Test against New Zealand on June 20 was postponed because of the pandemic.
It would be an enormous call to relax Origin and international selection rules to accommodate such a move. Oceania Tests are still pencilled in for October.
But it would, in these uncertain times, bring the likes of Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita, Will Hopoate and Siosiua Taukeiaho into line for possible Origin selection.
“As much as it would hurt us, could you imagine Jason Taumalolo lining up in a Maroons jumper?” Fittler asked.
Where’s Tonga? That’s in Queensland.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys established the innovation committee, headed by former Balmain captain Wayne Pearce, to investigate models that can be introduced at short notice if the competition resumes.
V’landys is also seeking a second opinion from an infectious disease expert to see if the game can return sooner rather than later after the first expert it engaged grounded the competition on March 23.
According to some reports, a return could happen as early as May, despite much of the country going into lockdown.
The NRL faces a potential backlash from some fans who can’t understand why some businesses aren’t allowed to operate – but two rugby league teams of sweaty men tackling each other is allowed.
Fittler tested negative to COVID-19 this week after showing flu-like symptoms.
“I understand that but the game just can’t sit on its hands,” Fittler said. “It needs to come up with strategies and models in case we are allowed to come back and play.
“If we do it respectfully, and work with the relevant authorities, I can’t see why we can’t start with the Origin series if it’s deemed safe to do so.”
Andrew Webster is Chief Sports Writer of The Sydney Morning Herald.