ARLC chairman Peter V’landys optimistic about Australia-New Zealand travel, State of Origin crowds

However, V’landys said he was hopeful travel between Australia and New Zealand would soon be permitted, pointing to recent comments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and plans for a so-called “trans-Tasman bubble”.

“We’re keeping a very close eye on the report that the New Zealand government and the Australian government are in discussions to be allowed to travel between each other,” V’landys said.

“Realistically, the two countries have got a very low infection rate. If there was ever going to be [movement between] two countries, they are the two you start with because of the low infection rates.

“That’s why we allowed ourselves so much time when we announced [a resumption date]. We realised that in five weeks, the situation is going to be substantially different. The governments are likely to change the social distancing measures and allow businesses to start gradually opening up and everything like that.

“The borders between NSW and Queensland could reopen in five weeks.

Shifting Origin to the end of the season raises the prospect of crowds attending the games.Credit:Quentin Jones

“At some point in time we have to start coming back to normality. The infection rate in NSW has been less than 1 per cent for nearly 14 days.

“The criteria in other countries is 14 days of low infection rate and they start easing the measures. New Zealand have been in lockdown, their measures have been harsher than ours.

“On the last round of play, the infection rate was 25 per cent. The biggest thing that people aren’t noticing is the recovery rate – the recovery rate in Australia is 75 per cent. That’s moving at a rate that is twice as fast as the infection rate, which is a big difference.

“That’s where Australia is different to other countries around the world – our health system has been able to cope with the virus.”

The NRL had toyed with the idea of restarting its season with Origin, but has opted to schedule it at the end in the hope crowds may be allowed to attend sporting events by October or November.

“That is one of the reasons we are putting it there, because there may be the possibility of crowds,” V’landys said. “Even if there is social distancing, it could happen. There were two rationals for putting it at the end: one is that we could get crowds; secondly, and just as importantly, because there are less rounds, we want the clubs to have their players at all times.

“Clubs do suffer when the State of Origin is on, so the good teams are disadvantaged because there are less rounds. The credibility and authenticity of the competition is crucial to us.

“Basically, if they have their player roster for the whole rounds, it assists the clubs that normally suffer during that period. This time they can’t suffer because it would be unfair because they have less time to catch up.”

The NRL has prepared a detailed biosecurity document that will govern how players and staff are allowed to interact on training and playing days.


“It’s a lengthy document and we’re quite prepared to give it to the government to use as a benchmark for other sports,” V’landys said.

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