NRL to be extended

Season 2013 will be extended by one week if NRL chairmen and chief executives vote for a unique 27th round which will see 180,000 fans watch the eight games at three sell-out venues.

Although it will be played early in the season, the “27th round” will include a double-header at New Zealand’s Eden Park or Newcastle’s Ausgrid Stadium on Friday night, a triple-header in Brisbane on Saturday evening and another triple-header at Homebush on Sunday. The extra-round matches will count for competition points.

Western Sydney clubs will be allocated games at ANZ Stadium, while the three Queensland sides will play at Suncorp Stadium and the Warriors in Auckland.

Each venue is expected to be sold out and all gate takings — expected to be about $3 million — will be split evenly among the clubs.

The competition would still be 12 home games and 12 away games — with an additional round added.

The proposal will be heavily discussed and scrutinised at a club CEO and chairmen’s meeting in Coogee today.

“The blockbuster round concept is something which we would like to discuss with the clubs, but we believe it could be an exciting new concept for fans of rugby league,” NRL football operations director Nathan McGuirk said.

The English Super League takes an entire round to Millennium Stadium in Wales but the NRL feels its round should be split over three venues.

League’s heavyweights will also vote today on having three State of Origin games played in two countries over one stand-alone weekend.

Plans can be revealed for a stunning weekend of elite football whereby NSW would play Queensland, New Zealand would host its first Origin game (Auckland v Counties) and there would be another Origin contest at National Youth Competition (under-20) level.

Origin would be stand-alone just once in 2013 and played on Monday nights to assist player welfare. The remaining two Origin games would have NRL matches played on either side of them.

Plans are also under way for no byes in 2013 but a return to split rounds and the stand-alone Origin..

“We have been looking at a number of different models to solve issues around Origin and have consulted club representatives on our season structure committee (Peter Doust, Steve Humphreys, Paul White and Todd Greenberg) and also other prominent people within the game,” McGuirk said.

” While no perfect solution exists, we believe the potential changes around Origin can alleviate some of the concerns from the perspective of the load on players and the need for clubs to have their stars available, while still retaining the importance of Origin.”

“We are looking at a structure which delivers on three principles,” NRL chief executive David Gallop said.

“Firstly, the need to maximise the commercial returns for the game.

“(Secondly) to alleviate the workload on players, in particular the mandatory requirements for players to back up within days of a major rep game. And thirdly to have, as much as possible, a heavy presence across each weekend of the season.”

There are suggestions the independent commission could formally be announced today.

by Buford Balony

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