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What are we going to do without footy?

So that's it then, for now at least. Probably for while.

Just like that, the NRL competition joins the other major sporting leagues around the world in a temporary shutdown.

Is it possible to be both stunned and very unsurprised at the same time?

While I was hoping against hope the NRL would somehow navigate a path through this unbelievable and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with its exponential infection rates and border closures, to find a way to keep the games going, there was an overwhelming sense of inevitability about the Monday night announcement that the game would be going on hiatus due to updated expert advice.

I won't lie, this is a very flat feeling.

After awaiting all summer for the season to kick off, to get two rounds in (one behind closed doors) then a hiatus of who-knows-how-long, is very unsettling.

I said as much on Twitter when the announcement was made and was immediately overwhelmed with love and support from across the industry.

That has certainly been the most heartwarming part of not just Monday's announcement but this whole period of uncertainty – seeing people across the game, across different clubs and media outlets and organisations and fan bases, reaching out to each other to prop each other up.

But what do we do now? Normally in times like these we'd agree to all meet at the pub to drown our sorrows, but we can't even do that.

Barely an hour before the announcement I was still getting questions about what trades people should make to their NRL Fantasy teams.

I was mentally assessing what the talking points would be for our fantasy preview video this week.

My Fantasy WhatsApp group was abuzz with which players to rage-trade while simultaneously speculating what consequences this pandemic would hold for our game.

I know there are bigger things going on in the world right now but we Fantasy nerds take this stuff seriously!

It's hard to convey to those outside the Fantasy bubble how much of our day to day conversations and mental bandwidth are taken up with Payne Haas's work rate, Nathan Cleary's kick metres or whether Harry Grant will tip Billy Walters out of the Wests Tigers starting side.

NRL suspends season in wake of COVID-19 outbreak

I've seen plenty of jokes from Knights and Eels fans over the past fortnight along the lines of 'if we just suspend the competition right… NOW'.

No one actually wanted it to happen, but as a long-suffering Eels man, I guess I can at least take solace from the fact that every morning when I check the NRL ladder during the shutdown period the Eels will still be in first place.

Not really, after that second half against the Titans I just want the next game to be now already.

We'll get through this. We'll be back. It's the greatest game of all.

So for now it's wait and see, I guess. The days are looking pretty empty in the near future.

Maybe I'll dust off the guitar my wife has been telling me she's never heard me play, or dig out my French and Japanese language notes since everyone seems to think now is the time to be learning another language. Call the family, catch up when it's safe and possible.

Stay safe out there. Stay strong. Be kind to each other. We'll get through this. We'll be back. It's the greatest game of all.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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