The preference is to start the season on May 28 and for three Origin games to be still played on a Wednesday, Sunday and Wednesday night, but over four weeks rather than the usual six weeks.
Provided they receive the blessing from Nine, the broadcaster who owns the exclusive rights to Origin – and the publishers of this masthead – Project Apollo’s preference would be for the opening Origin game to be played six or seven games after the NRL competition returns.
This would give NSW coach Brad Fittler and his Queensland counterpart Kevin Walters less time to pick their final sqauds but still enough to reward form.
Fittler has continued to meet each week with the Blues’ brains trust, including Greg Alexander, Craig Fitzgibbon, Danny Buderus, Andrew Johns and Peter Parr, to discuss the different contingencies they may face.
Blues boss Dave Trodden told the Herald on Thursday night: “In order of priority, you want to get it on, the when and where are not as important as the fact it actually happens. And in a perfect world you would want it to happen when a crowd can attend as well, which means you have it towards the end when there’s more likeihood of a crowd. But as this year has shown us we don’t have a perfect world.”
The idea to relaunch the new season with Origin was briefly flirted with a few weeks ago but scrapped once the ”bubble” concept was abandoned.
If Nine want Origin to be played after the season proper, and when there is a better chance of crowds being allowed back into stadiums, the best-of-three series would be played over consecutive weekends.
The NRL and ARLC are well aware of how financially vital it is for Origin to feature on any reworked calendar.
Project Apollo members are sweating on when the broadcasters want the season to start and finish and where they expect Origin to slot into the revised season. The ARLC next meet on Tuesday when they hope they can sign off on the new start date, which remains May 28.
Queensland have shut their borders and should they remain closed in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, there is the likelihood all three Origin games will be played in Sydney.
This is a daunting prospect for Walters who is trying to avoid a third series loss but also one he is happy to accept.
Earlier this month Blues skipper Boyd Cordner floated the radical idea of playing a best-of-five or even a best-of-seven Origin series as an end-of-year consolation if the NRL failed to resume by the September 1 cut-off.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.