NRL clubs left hanging on restart draw
Teams may not know who they are playing until a week out from the competition resuming with clubs told not to expect the draw until next week as cost-cutting measures at the NRL ramp up.
With the NRL to restart on May 28, clubs still do not know who they will face in the first round back.
They were told as part of a 90-minute phone hook up with interim NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo on Tuesday afternoon that a decision is unlikely this week.
While the lack of crowds means that fans do not have to plan to attend matches, coaches are desperate to know what shape their season will take. The delay means whoever kicks off the relaunched season in the Thursday night game may have a week to prepare for their opposition.
The ARLC commission will meet on Wednesday to discuss a raft of cost-cutting measures with the game looking to stamp out about $50 million from head office. Clubs were told some of the savings would come from the events, digital and operations departments. While clubs welcomed the increased transparency from the new-look NRL management they still have questions about the cost base of the governing body.
Clubs are also hopeful to learn later this week where they will play "home" matches with the likes of Canberra and Newcastle expected to be told they will need to play matches in Sydney.
The clubs are scheduled to talk again on Friday to coincide with the deadline ARLC chairman Peter V'landys has set himself for finalising the broadcast deal.
A chunk of those cost-cutting discussions will be centred around the game reverting back to one referee which the ARLC will decide on Wednesday. The group tasked with examining the proposal were in strong support of maintaining the two referee policy when it met on Monday.
That group was headed by current players Daly Cherry-Evans and Wade Graham, coaches Trent Robinson and Michael Maguire plus a variety of officials including Wayne Pearce, Graham Annesley, Jason King, Don Furner, Bernie Sutton, Matt Cecchin, Cooper Cronk and Clint Newton.
The overarching preference of the group was to keep at two referee while a host of coaches have spoken out in favour of ensuring the current set-up. Club bosses echoed those thoughts on Tuesday.
The commission will have to balance the cost-saving measures of keeping one referee up against the wishes of some of the game's most influential figures. If a one-referee policy is adopted then they will give consideration to having a "ruck spotter" within the bunker to ensure the muck does not become overruled by wrestling.
V'landys supports the one referee policy.
Although furious with the lack of consultation, the head of the referees' union Silvio Del Vecchio said industrial action against the plan would be "silly and out of line and not something they would consider".
Originally published as Clubs left hanging on restart draw