PLANS are being developed by Group Seven Rugby League for what their 2020 season might look like, should they get the all clear to return to the field.
Following NSWRL's announcement last week, which stated their intentions to return to the field in July,Group Seven president Scott McLaurin and operations manager Debbie Rowley have been in discussion with all the clubs in regards to a revised 2020 draw.
"The Group Seven senior board feel it is our responsibility to plan for the season going forward and do whatever we can to make this happen," McLaurin said.
"This decision was taken after much consideration and we fully understand the difficulties we all face moving forward.
"All clubs - in Group Seven and across NSWRL - have been impacted massively with sponsorship revenue.
"With this being said, it is important clubs manage the situation accordingly and have the discussion with players about reduced payments.
"NSWRL has suggested competitions look at amateur competitions as we don't know what restrictions will be in place.
"I urge all first grade clubs to discuss this matter with respective players, as I have no doubt the majority of players will agree these are difficult times and player payments should be reduced or not given."
As McLaurin alludes to, Group Seven want to stay as positive and proactive as they can, despite not exactly knowing what the competition might look like.
One aspect they can control is the on-field play.
At this stage, their draft plan outlines the season could kick-off on July 18 and 19 and run for 12 weeks, before a five-team final series - culminating in a potential grand final day on November 8.
"At this stage, training will commence on July 1 and any group that's seen to be working out together before that date could see the whole club suspended from the competition," McLaurin said.
"Once we do return to the field, we'd like to fit in a 12-week competition before finals but all that will be worked out once team nominations come through for all grades.
"As far as registration and insurance costs, we are waiting for a response from NSWRL - they will make this decision once they have the number of games.
"As we are planning to run into the summer months, there are already discussions being held with councils about ground availabilities and the logistics surrounding that.
"This could also impact the players involved in both winter and summer sports but ultimately, that decision falls on the individual."
While this is a step in the right direction for rugby league on the South Coast, McLaurin appreciates there is still plenty of work to be done in the coming months.
"Going forward, if everything goes to plan and we get the Group Seven competition off the ground, it will be under extremely difficult conditions," he said.
"We are all in this together and need to stay positive and comply with government and NSWRL recommendations.
"These tough circumstances are a real opportunity to expose the outstanding competition we have - it will also help to further promote rugby league in the area."
Similarly, the Illawarra League are currently in discussions with its seven clubs amid fears some may struggle to meet the financial demands of fielding a first grade side without the support of major sponsors - typically licensed pubs and clubs still unable to trade amid strict lockdown protocols.
The league released a statement via social media on Monday saying it has opened dialogue with its senior and junior clubs to discuss a way forward.
"Following the recent announcement by NSWRL about a possible return of 2020 competitions on 18 July, Illawarra Division Rugby League is currently in the process of consulting senior clubs as to their current situation and viability to compete in any 2020 competitions," it read.
"Following consultation with all relevant stakeholders a proposal will be drafted regarding the structure and conditions that any 2020 competitions will be played under, and further consultation with clubs etc will take place with a view to confirming the return of IDRL competitions should NSW public health orders regarding gatherings and movement permit this.
"Similar consultation with junior clubs will also take place to confirm their ability to participate in any modified 2020 competitions."