TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Eels coach Brad Arthur speaks at the post match media conference at the end of the round 10 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Parramatta Eels at 1300SMILES Stadium on May 18, 2019 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The NRL will consider a proposal to scrap all competition points from the opening two rounds of the season when the innovation committee reconvenes on Thursday to discuss the potential of a two-conference system.

In a decision set to anger the undefeated Eels, Knights, Panthers, Broncos, Raiders and Storm – the NRL innovation committee will discuss voiding the opening two rounds as part of a proposal to restart the competition with two eight-team conferences from as early as May 28.

Speaking of the proposal to The Sydney Morning Herald, innovation committee leader Wayne Pearce said “We’re going to be looking at all the options”

“There are pros and cons for the type of structures they are looking to put in place and what spins from that we will have to look at all options. That will all be talked about. It’s going to be a pretty big meeting because there’s a lot to discuss.”

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson is likely to be a natural target for those against the proposal considering his team is winless and he is the only coach on the innovation committee. However, fellow committee member Troy Grant defended Robinson and his integrity.

“I can tell you honestly, he and Donny Furner (Raiders chief) gave a number of scenarios where their clubs would have been disadvantaged,” Grant told the Herald.

“Anyone pointing fingers at them for trying to favour their clubs is so off the mark it’s not funny. Both men have great integrity and the game’s full interest at heart.”

There are currently two main options for the structure of the 2020 NRL season

  • Keep all NRL teams together and play each other once. Games could be played at Sydney Olympic Park, with teams staying at hotels and training at facilities in the area.
  • Or, split the competition into two conferences in two locations (such as Sydney and Townsville) and implement a system similar to the NBA. This would include playing each of the other seven teams in the conference twice in a 14-game season. It would open the door for the NRL to wipe the points from the opening two rounds. However, some have stated that points could be carried over into this new system.

Newcastle coach Adrien O’Brien, who guided his team to back-to-back wins in the opening rounds, wants the season to return but believes it will be unjust to strip points.

“Try telling poor Jayden Brailey that he did an ACL for nothing,” O’Brien said.

“He went out and played the whole second half for his teammates and the two points knowing something was wrong. I couldn’t look that kid in the eye if it was for nothing.

“These are dark times for everyone, and the thing for me is our members and our fans and our sponsors are hanging onto the excitement of how we started the season. The number one thing is we get back and play, I know it is.”

“But we are asking them to stick solid and continue their memberships with the team around a narrative of what we have done so far. There are other clubs who have debutants, does that not count as their first NRL game? That’s a special day you can’t take away from someone.”

Knights captain Mitchell Pearce, the son of Wayne, has stated he hasn’t spoke to his father but would be frustrated if points are taken away.

“I haven’t even spoken to Dad, but I would be filthy if they took the points off us,” he said.

“We want our four points. I’m sure Cameron Smith would be saying the same thing for the Storm. We had two of our best players get injured and that can’t be for nothing.”

Paramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur, who’s team sits on top of the NRL ladder after two victories against Gold Coast and Canterbury, has said the club isn’t worried about the potential removal of points.

“We haven’t been told about two conferences and as far we’ve been told we’re keeping our points,” he said.