All Stars game to return in February, International Nines in pipeline

The NRL has announced the return of the All Stars match to next year's pre-season schedule and CEO Todd Greenberg also said discussions were also underway to stage an International Nines tournament at the end of the year.

Club CEOs were on Tuesday morning consulted on the proposed 2019 calendar which will also feature the first NRL Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in May.

Greenberg also said negotiations were continuing for the Telstra Premiership to stage its opening match in the United States.

He said the proposed game would be played one week before all other round-one matches, possibly in California.

"Significant work is required to make this game happen but it would be a sensational way to open the 2019 season," Greenberg said.

"We think it's a great initiative, the clubs think it's a great initiative, it's a great way to drive our international broadcast rights and a great way to attract new fans. It's not locked in though, there's still a lot of work to do."

He hoped it would become a long-term arrangement but acknowledged competing interests around broadcast, workload, travel and commercial considerations.

"We think there's a real opportunity for us to grow the sport internationally ... there's a clear opportunity on the west coast of America for us to play that game back here on a Sunday afternoon for our fans on a weekend when there is historically no rugby league," he added.

Greenberg also confirmed the second match of the Holden State of Origin series would again be played on a Sunday evening in 2019 – at the new Perth Stadium.

"The match is already close to being a sell-out – that's how much interest there is in Origin in Perth," he said.

"It is another example of how fans are keen to attend matches live when they have world class facilities."

Greenberg said the NRL was aiming to schedule blockbuster matches to coincide with the opening of the new stadium in Western Sydney.

The NRL will continue to encourage clubs to take NRL Telstra Premiership games to regional areas in 2019.

Meanwhile, a proposed new look accreditation scheme for rugby league agents was also presented to the NRL CEOs.

Greenberg and RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast said player agents are professional service providers and it is therefore appropriate that their industry is regulated and they adhere to appropriate standards of service.

Storm boss Dave Donaghy, NRL chied executive Todd Greenberg and RLPA CEO Ian Prendegast.
Storm boss Dave Donaghy, NRL chied executive Todd Greenberg and RLPA CEO Ian Prendegast. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The revised scheme will:

  • Provide clear conduct and service standards that will be regulated accordingly
  • Encourage a closer working relationship between the NRL, RLPA and agents
  • Provide a voice for agents on matters affecting them and the game
  • Introduce a revised agent accreditation entry process
  • Ensure agents are subject to NRL Rules – like other participants in the game

Prendergast said the changes would bring agents into the modern era of professional sport and hoped any pushback from agents would be minimal.

"Naturally there will be some fear-based behaviour in terms of wariness of how this will impact individual agents and how they run their businesses," he said.

"The good agents will rise to the top and the other agents will be supported to improve and if they don't they'll be exposed.

"It's a bit like technology, you have to move with the times. We're all using smart phones at the moment and they're using an old Nokia. They'll appreciate the scheme once it's introduced."