So, we are less than a week away from a return to some live sport . . . or are we?
The NRL has announced that Rugby League will return next week, with teams playing games at six nominated stadiums — with no crowds.
And everyone involved has done their best to ensure a smooth return to the playing field. Or have they?
Peter V’Landys, as chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission has been tireless in his efforts to get Rugby League back on the paddock for all of us long suffering fans, bored senseless after what seems like six months of lockdown.
But in reality it’s been a little over eight weeks without footy.
He has been busy negotiating with broadcasters, players, three different State governments as well as referees.
V’landys has managed some difficult negotiations to achieve an outcome with Foxtel and Channel 9, with some success.
The problem is that previous administrations appear to have treated Rugby League as a valuable commodity, convinced that broadcasters would always fall over themselves to retain — at least in NSW.
Instead of building up some valuable reserves for a rainy (or COVIDY) day, they squandered large amounts of money.
On the face of it, V’landys seems to have managed these negotiations expertly.
Next was player salaries.
With a reduced broadcast deal, the NRL had a problem. It had a contract to pay players based on the salary cap.
But how could it pay the existing salary cap with a lower broadcast deal?
Again V’landys seems to have masterly negotiated a deal, that players and the Rugby League Players Association all seemed happy with.
Even though players did agree to a fairly hefty 71 per cent pay cut for the rest of the year, 29 per cent of something is always better than 100 per cent of nothing.
To be fair, Todd Greenberg was heavily involved in these negotiations prior to his untimely demise.
Next was the Government, not one but four. The Federal government as well as the State governments of NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
The NRL managed to get some concessions from the Feds to allow the NZ Warriors to enter Australia and self isolate while they prepared for a return to footy.
Trouble is, a game of Rugby League is going to breech social distancing laws, with 26 big, boofy blokes doing the exact opposite of social distancing.
So the first thing the NRL had to do was convince players that while training was cancelled, they would have to obey the same social distancing laws as everyone else.
Rugby League players have never been known for being the brightest sparks, so no one was really shocked when several players not only breached state laws — but posted their exploits on social media.
After some hefty fines and even a couple of suspensions, the NRL moves on.
Next problem is that Queensland has closed its borders, and may not reopen them until July.
Queensland agreed to allow NRL players to train and play in Queensland with a number of conditions, one of which was that all players had to be vaccinated against the flu.
I’m not going to get into an argument about whether or not this condition should be imposed.
There are plenty of industries that insist on employees being vaccinated against various illnesses, including health workers and abattoir workers.
Some players from the Gold Coast, Manly, Canterbury and Canberra objected to this and sought exemptions on health grounds.
One of the outspoken ones is Manly’s Dylan Walker, who believes that he has the right to know what goes into his body.
Like most anti-vaxers, they share a belief that they know what’s best to protect themselves and their children.
Let’s take a look at Walker’s history to see how genuine he is.
Like many NRL players, and the general public, Walker has a few tattoos.