Martin Devlin: Against all odds, the NRL is back!

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 May 2020, 1:44PM

Martin Devlin: Against all odds, the NRL is back!

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 May 2020, 1:44PM

It's back! Tonight against all odds the NRL resumes with the Broncos hosting the Eels in Brisbane. 

Congratulations must go to Peter V'landys the ARL Commission Chairman who by sheer force of will has virtually singlehandedly bulldozed this comp into such a quick restart. As all others seemed to coagulate he solidified a plan, put his vision into place and is about to achieve something many of us thought would never happen.

Yes, I was a Doubting Thomas. I thought the guy was both brilliant AND bonkers. Here he was almost every day with another hare-brained scheme it seemed. While the rest of the planet was going into compulsory self isolation, V'landys was bucking the trend boldly naming both a start date  and revamped draw - and now it's all about to happen.

Just to refresh your memory, the last round of NRL matches took place behind closed doors on the weekend of March 19th - 22nd, just a few days before we went into Level 4 lockdown. At that stage the return of live  sport, any live sport, within his suggested time frame was laughable.

While admiring the man's enthusiasm, all reasonable medical estimates suggested the reality of what he was wishing for was simply never going to happen. It couldn't happen. When the whole of world sport had been shut down by a  single NBA player's positive test, what hope that a full-on collision sport would kickstart within 10 weeks of Gobert's test? But here we are.

Round 1 of the  revamped comp, behind closed doors, is on at 9.50 NZT tonight. Games without  fans will be as weird as watching the Bundesliga has been, hopefully the NRL will take the German's lead and pipe in some crowd sound effects to boost the atmos.

As contrived as it sounds, if you are prepared to suspend reality for the duration, the background noise certainly makes for a better television viewing spectacle. And until governments here and in Australia relax conditions enough to once again let crowds gather en masse, tv is how and where we'll be watching ALL our sport UFN.

So, join me tonight as we welcome back what hopefully will be the resumption of all our favourite leagues. Like many I'll be watching this one from home,  on the couch, very happily tucking in to my second slice of "I was Wrong' humble pie.