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NRL tells clubs season must restart by September to be salvaged

The NRL is preparing alternative season schedules that could have players back on the paddock as early as June, and as late as September.

But should a shortened 15-game season not be kicked off by September 1, which would mean players were in action up until Christmas, the 2020 campaign is expected to be abandoned.

CEOs and chairs from all 16 clubs phoned in or met at Rugby League Central on Tuesday morning in response to the game's landmark decision to cancel matches amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A variety of return-to-play scenarios were put to the delegation, with the earliest possible kick-off date slated for June 1, amounting to a nine-week hiatus.

In a best-case scenario, the NRL would return in some form from that date, though government advice will dictate when it is safe to do so.

Alternative competition start dates for July, August and September have also been outlined, with numerous formats still being considered.

A September 1 kick-off would result in a condensed 15-game campaign in which each team plays each other once, before a grand final held deep in December.

NRL.com understands the previously mooted two-conference system, where clubs would be split into two locations to limit travel and public exposure, remains an option to keep games going ahead.

NRL suspends season in wake of COVID-19 outbreak

So too is the prospect of shifting the entire competition to North Queensland, though the logistics of both scenarios will be dictated by individual state government policies.

RLPA chief Clint Newton has indicated players are willing to continue playing well into the summer months, but there is yet to be any briefing on potentially playing the competition out of one location.

The NRL and RLPA are scheduled to begin discussions around the salary cap and potential player wage cuts in the next 24 hours.

Meetings will also be held with broadcasters Foxtel and Nine this week.

Club representatives will be briefed again on developments on Friday, with Canterbury's Andrew Hill, the Roosters Joe Kelly, Rabbitohs Blake Solly and Brisbane’s Paul White to lead discussions with the NRL.

No discussions have been held yet as to when State of Origin will be held, but it remains a priority given the financial windfall it provides.

Britain's Rugby Football League remains hopeful this year's Ashes series, currently scheduled for November, can still be accommodated but the NRL season's return will dictate what representative fixtures can still go ahead.