NRL to experiment on return: Robinson

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson (R) says the NRL will need to experiment if cleared to resume.
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson (R) says the NRL will need to experiment if cleared to resume.

Wacky rules and experimental formats will breathe life back into the NRL if it's cleared to return in 2020, according to Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

The three-time premiership winner, known as one of the greatest thinkers in the game, is part of the NRL's innovation committee.

Led by Wayne Pearce, the committee is tasked with revamping the competition's schedule in preparation for a restart after the coronavirus shutdown.

"If we're going to get this competition on, it's going to be a shortened season. Let's experiment with stuff that we would never do, that we would never actually try," Robinson told Fox League Live on Sunday night.

"Let's offer a great product. Let's get out there on the world stage and offer the game of rugby league."

The committee will reconvene on Thursday and discuss a range of experimental ideas including playing in conferences, isolating the players in a bubble and moving the competition to an island.

Isolating teams in a 'bubble' would require individuals to self-isolate for 14 days, and then teams to isolate for the same period in locked-down hotels.

Robinson is confident the competition can restart this year but, to do so, rugby league needs to work together and forget rivalries in the meantime.

"We have to stop worrying about our little cocoon of: 'I wonder how the Roosters are going?'," he said.

"I'll get back to that when the competition gets decided but we all become rugby league people now.

"Let's get this game back on as safely as possible and let's experiment with conferences; let's work out how the game looks.

"We're going to have to go into bubbles anyway to do that.

"So how can we ignite some of the things we've talked about for probably two decades, the conference system?

"How do we light up people's interest in the competition again in a different way but still 80 minutes of 13 on 13?"

Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V'landys is hell bent on restarting the NRL season in June or July, giving teams at least a month to complete a mini pre-season.

Robinson believes a fortnight is the minimum amount needed to prepare players.

"I reckon two weeks is the shortest amount of time that you could do," he said.

"If we get going in six to seven weeks, you could do two weeks because they've been training for a long time to get ready for the season.

"If you're talking about four months' time, you might have to take it out to four to five weeks.

"If we get the opportunity to play and train together, I don't think we're going to waste too much time training and not playing.

"If we get the OK to train together and we've done the isolation period that we need to, let's find the shortest possible way to get out there."

Australian Associated Press