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NRL planning to send spies to clubs as Bennett cancels sessions

Marks later met with Foxtel boss Patrick Delany, with the game’s powerbrokers hopeful of broadcast clarity in time for Friday’s innovation committee meeting pencilled in to discuss the season structure.

Interim chief executive Andrew Abdo confirmed to clubs that “long term security” was a priority in discussions with its broadcast partners but wouldn’t comment on the negotiation.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks.Credit:Louie Douvis

Bennett, who was part of Wednesday’s innovation committee meeting, denied his club would return prior to the agreed May 4 training date after Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook let slip that his teammates had been assigned to small group sessions next week.

“I was there today and we all agreed what we are going to do,” Bennett said of the ‘Project Apollo’ meeting.

“We (South Sydney) put some plans in place last week not knowing what the future held. We were just trying to get ahead of the game and put temporary plans in place subject to today’s meeting. They will be changing now.

“All the clubs would have been in the same boat, making plans around next week until we got told what was happening. We are all pretty adamant that we need to start on the same day. We will be waiting for the Warriors.

“If we don’t follow those rules, we will lose points or be fined – it’s as simple as that. It won’t be happening at Souths. I’m more than happy with that. I think it’s really good the way we are approaching it as a game. There are a lot of protocols around what we are doing.”

The NRL is pushing ahead with plans for a May 28 competition restart, with NRL head of football Graham Annesley breaking down a 50-page biosecurity report to send to clubs on Friday.

As part of the strict measures that will be introduced, the NRL is designing an app that will monitor players’ temperatures and health.

The NRL is also considering sending independent experts to ensure clubs are complying with the rules, and will report back to head office with major breaches if there is complete disregard for the measures in place.

Wednesday’s series of meetings also determined that:

  • The competition points and differential accrued in the opening two rounds will remain.
  • Proposal put forward to begin season playing out of two venues (ANZ Stadium and Bankwest) until border restrictions are relaxed.
  • No back-to-back games at same venue. Any matches at the same venue must be separated by two hours to ensure sanitation procedure. First and third game on Saturdays could be played at same venue.
  • Traditional format (no conference system) with length of season to be determined as early as Friday.
  • Limiting training to a squad of just 30 players and 15 staff.
  • The potential cancellation or postponement of Cricket World Cup could be a boost to the NRL’s broadcast deal.


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