Graham ready to sacrifice for NRL start

Players will have to make sacrifices in order for the NRL to restart, says Wayne Pearce.
Players will have to make sacrifices in order for the NRL to restart, says Wayne Pearce.

NRL players will need to make sacrifices such as moving away from their families to restart the 2020 season, and it's a price Cronulla skipper Wade Graham is prepared to pay.

The competition's innovations committee will reconvene on Thursday, with Australian Rugby League commissioner Wayne Pearce in charge of finding a way to resume the 2020 premiership in June or July.

The most likely scenario remains players being placed in lockdown together.

The so-called 'bubble' would likely require them to be away from partners and family for as long as coronavirus remained a threat.

"When you are talking about taking players away from their families, absolutely it's a sacrifice that players are going to have to make," Pearce told Nine's Sunday Footy Show.

"It's not going to be like a normal season.

"But having said that, if they are keen to get back on the field and we are keen to get rugby league up and running - and there are a lot of positives to that - then sacrifices have to be made."

Kangaroos hooker Damien Cook warned earlier this year he'd struggle to stay away from his family for more than two weeks to play for South Sydney.

However, Graham, with a young family and a heavily pregnant partner, says it's a sacrifice which needs to be made to support his loved ones.

Otherwise, the alternative is no footy, and no income.

"I've got a young family so, if we can't get a game on, I'll have to look for other work to provide for my family," Graham told Macquarie Radio on Sunday.

"It's where we're at at the moment with the game and with all the different scenarios that could eventuate this year.

"I think the players are willing to do whatever it takes. It is what it is; we just have to get on with it.

"I know it is a game of footy but, for all of us, it's our livelihood, so the sooner we can get back to work, the better."

How the NRL structures the quarantine camps or conferences remains a debate.

The option of having separate bases where multiple teams would stay together for weeks at a time seems preferable.

It would help to stop the virus spreading across the entire league if one player became infected and allow play to resume once experts deemed it safe.

"Putting hundreds of players together in one environment is a lot higher risk ... in terms of biosecurity," Pearce said.

"So there are a number of options we are looking at."

Graham sits on the board of directors for the Rugby League Players' Association and has been deep in negotiations over the past fortnight with the NRL.

But as the game looks for innovative ways to restart the competition, he says the playing group should be open to anything.

"If they want us to kick off next week in the backyard, I'll get my boots and I'll be ready to play," he said.

"I think all options need to be on the table and we, as players, need to be ready for whatever that looks like and just adjust."

Australian Associated Press