South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett is pleased the NRL season will continue despite COVID-19 fears. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

Bennett hails NRL’s push to play on

2020-03-19 12:14:05

Wayne Bennett has applauded the NRL’s decision to push on with the season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the nation.

Canterbury and North Queensland kick off round two of the campaign on Thursday night with no fans in attendance at an empty ANZ Stadium with games being played behind closed doors.

Bennett, whose South Sydney face Brisbane on Friday, is thrilled the game will continue to be played while other competitions at home and abroad have been suspended.

His comments come as the ARL Commission meet on Thursday to further discuss the ramifications COVID-19 is having on rugby league.

That could include postponing the State of Origin series, as well as the NRL finals, as far back into the calendar year as possible. 

“I’m elated the game’s going ahead,” Bennett said on Thursday.

“It’s nice to see the unity. I think the chairman’s doing a great job with it. (NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has) been up front with it. 

“I think Clint Newton’s been great with the players’ association.

“The CEOs have been wonderful. We’re all on the same page.

“We want to play rugby league and want to play this weekend.”

Bennett reminded people how often the league was often warring with itself. 

“We’ve got a great history of that. That’s why they think it’s a great game, because we can fracture it so often and put it all together again,” he said.

“This time there is unison with everybody and I’m pleased to be a part of that.”

While NRL officials remain desperate to continue in order to fulfil broadcast obligations, Bennett said there were plenty of other reasons to press on.

Viewership figures are expected to spike as supporters isolated at home search for live sporting content to consume.

“It’s all about the fans out there. It’s all about the people that earn a living off rugby league,” Bennett said.

“If we can stay on the football field, we can make a lot of people happy.

“We can provide something in a time where everybody probably needs a bit to get away from all the news surfacing about the virus.”