SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23: NRL CEO Todd Greenberg speaks to the media during a NRL Media opportunity in recognition of the NRL becoming the first national sporting organisation to reach 'Elevate' status, at Rugby League Central on August 23, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

It was a very different world just last month when the NRL’s chief executives were locked in discussions in Los Angeles with media powerbroker Lachlan Murdoch.

Successful broadcast negotiations would have stamped the seal of approval on the NRL’s long-planned expansion. The foundation for a second Brisbane team’s entry into the league in 2023 had already been laid and bidders were beginning to form an orderly queue.

But now derby night at Suncorp Stadium seems a world away as the competition scrambles to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

A five-year recovery period from the virus could be on the cards when and if businesses around the world start picking up the pieces.

The NRL itself is yet to comment as they look to kick-off Round 3 on Thursday night as one of the sole active sports leagues on the planet.

But privately, many inside the NRL’s offices are resigned to expansion in 2023 being a non-starter, according toΒ The Sydney Morning Herald.

Attention now turns to bracing for the impact of a potentially interrupted – and even abandoned – season and the long-term viability of its existing 16 clubs.

When and where expansion happens in the competition are questions not to be entertained by the NRL for at least the next few months.

In a month of long weeks, Thursday night at GIO Stadium seems an age away still at best.