As the NRL sets its return date, could the Kangaroos still tour England?

The NRL plans to restart on May 28 - breathing life into hopes the Ashes series here in the autumn could yet be saved.

Gold Coast Titans' Kallum Watkins is tackled during the round 2 NRL match against Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium last month (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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Pay-per-view games will save rugby league after coronavirus

Australia's competition announced today that it hopes to resume action next month if coronavirus restrictions are eased.

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The NRL was halted after just two rounds of the new season in March and there were fears the pandemic could shut it down for most of the year.

However, the NRL's innovations committee and the Australian Rugby League Commission have met and decided that games could be back in action in just seven weeks time.

They have also stated they plan for the State of Origin series to go ahead and the Grand Final to continue in Sydney.

If the competition can get up and running again so soon - and it remains a big if - England's three-Test series against the touring Australia in October/November could feasibly still go ahead.

That said, there are many hurdles still yet to cross and there are no indications yet when the sport will resume in this country.

For now, though, the NRL want to give their clubs a target to aim for.

ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce, who is heading up the innovations committee, said: "I'm pleased to announce we're planning a competition start on May 28.

"The details on the competition structure we haven't got yet because the landscape is changing around government boundaries. That will feed into the complexity structure.

"There's a lot of people that will be happy with the decision to get the competition running again.

"Today what we landed on was a starting date.

"We haven't finalised what that (competition) looks like yet. Why we want to firm up a date is to give certainty to players and their schedules, clubs and thousands of people who are out of work through clubs and millions of fans.

"It's a mark for everyone to work towards that's associated with the game."

Australia has a relatively low number of coronavirus cases compared to parts of Europe and the United States.

Just over 6,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and 51 have died.

ARL chairman Peter V'landys said: "There is clear evidence the curve is flattening.

"The NSW Government has done a great job in reducing the infection rate from 22.27% when we suspended the competition to 1.43% today.

"The situation is changing dramatically and we need to get moving. It is in the best interests of our clubs, our players, our stakeholders and importantly our fans that the competition resumes as quickly and as safely as possible.

"It is in the best interests of our clubs, our players, our stakeholders and importantly our fans that the competition resumes as quickly and as safely as possible.

"We have said right from the start that what we say today may need to change tomorrow. We will be flexible, and if the trend changes or if government restrictions change then so will we. The health and safety of our players and the general public remains the absolute priority."