NRL

Professional sport returns today, Brisbane vs Parramatta

Rugby league chief Peter V'landys was met with widespread disbelief when he announced in early April that the NRL would resume on May 28 but his ambition will pay off when a season suspended in late March resumes at Lang Park.

That ambition has been aided in large part by Australia's success in containing COVID-19 due to early travel restrictions, social distancing measures and widespread testing.

Walters: Why condensed Origin series will benefit Maroons

It was announced on Thursday that due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Origin would be staged on November 4, 11 and 18 - three consecutive Wednesdays - when it's hoped crowds can attend.

It's the first time Origin has been played so late in the year, with the showpiece series usually kicking off in late May or early June. Venues are yet to be confirmed.

Walters told NRL.com he thinks moving the series down the calendar, free from the interruption of club football, is "excellent from our point of view" as the Maroons look to snap NSW's two-year winning run.

NRL makes rule change to help Warriors

The Auckland club has been asking the Australian Rugby League Commission for extra support, having lost three players to long-term injuries since arriving in Australia.

The Warriors need relief in the middle third of the field in particular, with first-choice front-rower Leeson Ah Mau all but sidelined for the season with a ruptured pectoral muscle, while lock Jazz Tevaga will miss the opening rounds with a knee injury.

Breaking new ground: Origin series and women's game in November

The NRL has announced the 2020 fixtures will be played on November 4, 11 and 18. Venues are yet to be finalised.

It was also announced on Thursday that the women’s State of Origin match - which was originally due to be played in June - has been scheduled to go ahead in November as a standalone fixture on Friday, November 13.

With the rearranged Origin schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the NRL to reschedule its entire calendar, the men’s series being played over three consecutive weeks will present unique challenges for coaches and players alike.

Warriors head into NRL restart minus key prop Ah Mau

First-choice prop Leeson Ah Mau, who has made 205 first grade appearances, will be sidelined for up to four months after scans confirmed he ruptured a pectoral muscle at training in Tamworth on Friday.

Ah Mau will stay in Australia for his operation this week before returning home, and is unlikely to play any part in the restarted NRL season.

The former St George Illawarra Dragons front-rower hadn't missed a game for the Warriors since returning to Mt Smart.

Tests in doubt but international hiatus may have silver lining

But there may be some good from that with officials believing the havoc caused by COVID-19 could lead to a greater alignment of the NRL and Super League competitions to create a genuine international window.

With State of Origin to be played after the October 25 NRL grand final and Super League to run possibly even later into the year, it is widely accepted that the first Kangaroo tour since 2003 will be scrapped.

Competition within Warriors ranks welcomed ahead of season re-start

Nathaniel Roache has joined the squad at its training base in Tamworth, New South Wales after missing the team's charter flight last Sunday.

Roache sat out the opening couple of rounds of the season as he continued his recovery from a serious knee injury, but will now try and vie for the Warriors' nine jersey with Lawton and Wayde Egan, who started against both Newcastle and Canberra.

Jason Taumalolo only Kiwi on NRL superstars list

Thurston won everything there is to win in the game in his illustrious career with both the Cowboys and the Bulldogs, cementing his status as one of the legends of the game with his 2015 premiership win.

In the Channel Nine survey, Thurston, the  Cowboys and Queensland legend, placed ahead of Andrew Johns and Cameron Smith, while Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater, Brad Fittler, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Taumalolo and Laurie Daley rounded out the top 10.

Taumalolo was rated the "most destructive'' player in NRL history, outpointing former Brisbane Broncos great Gorden Tallis.

Warriors on their own in Australia

The squad flew out from Auckland yesterday after getting clearance to resume training ahead of a resumption of the competition at the end of the month.

They were without two players, hooker Nathaniel Roache, who felt unwell on the morning of departure and centre David Fusitu'a, who was given permission to delay his departure on compassionate grounds.

The players said their farewells as they were dropped off at Auckland airport.

Confidence Warriors will fly out on Sunday

The Auckland club hopes that final clearance will be given today to head across the Tasman to start preparing for the return of the National Rugby League (NRL).

The club is organising a charter flight for its 32 players and 18 staff to depart Auckland on Sunday.

The Australian government and state officials will hold meetings today to discuss frameworks around the return to sport at all levels and how they may implement that.