Rival NRL clubs could join forces under a proposal to play fortnightly trial matches to keep players conditioned, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Currently, four teams have been discussed- NSW Country Origin, QLD Origin, Sydney’s West (Penrith, Paramatta, Wests Tigers and Canterbury) with another group made up of the remaining teams such as the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles.
With the second-tier Canterbury Cup now abandoned for the year, clubs will have to ensure all 30 players remain match fit to play during the NRL season.
These trial matches could ensure that players coming back from long-term injury, such as Cronulla pair Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan can ease back into match conditioning before their NRL returns, as well as showcasing some of the top young talent on team lists.
The trial match will be played fortnightly on Monday nights with the game set to be offered to TV networks, as matches will be played in venues set up with equipment to broadcast Sunday matches.
Club coaches would name their 21-man squads on Tuesday for NRL games, then those remaining would be placed in a pool for trial matches with assistant coaches from all clubs involved in charge of the squads to ensure a balance between clubs is managed.
This idea has been floated in various meetings in recent weeks, and will be brought up again during Friday’s upcoming Project Apollo meeting.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has spoken how coaches are keen on the idea.
“Each club would probably provide six players and we’d rotate them to make sure everyone’s going to get a game,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“They wouldn’t do a lot of training together. It would be more just turning up and playing.
“Just get out there and play some footy and get some good contact work.”
The idea has also received strong support from player managers and the RLPA, with chief executive Clint Newton stating his approval.
“It’s already been floated at a Project Apollo meeting,” Newton said.
“As long as we maintain the health and safety protocols for the players, anything that gives them an opportunity to do what they love – and that’s play football – we would be 100 per cent supportive.
“Players needs the opportunity to play each week and this will help.”