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"Just get on with it and adapt."

Cronulla coach John Morris delivered the message to his players about the season ahead as they awaited the announcement of the revised NRL draw on Friday.

After months of uncertainty about when they could play again and what the competition would look like, the Sharks are now preparing to face Wests Tigers on Saturday, May 30 and then travel to North Queensland to meet the Cowboys a week later.

All the other teams can also begin implementing training schedules, devising game plans and studying video footage of their opponents in the first two rounds of the rebooted season.

Venues were still being finalised when the draw was released on Friday and there are another 16 weeks of matches to be announced but everyone knows when their team will be back in action and that is all that really matters for now.

As one coach said: "At least we are not like the AFL. We are going forward."

Some didn’t believe the NRL would be back at all when the competition was suspended on Monday, March 23 after just two rounds.

Others argued May 28 was too soon to resume when ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys first proposed the date and the NRL’s plans were widely described as being “ambitious” - as if that was bad thing.

Since then, schools have re-opened, COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to ease as less than 600 active cases remain in Australia and plans are being made for a trans-Tasman travel "bubble".

Round 4 top 5 fixtures

The NRL is now set to lead the way in a return to the playing fields for professional and community sport across Australia when Brisbane host Parramatta in less than two weeks.

The release of the draw was the final confirmation that the Telstra Premiership restart was happening and the eyes of the nation, and the world, will now be on the NRL as a remarkable demonstration of persistence and innovation - led by V’landys - becomes reality.

While there is debate about what the game will look like under one referee for the first time since 2008, and with the introduction of the new "six again" rule rather than a penalty for ruck infringements, most now just want to get on with playing again.

"The game is back on, that is the most important thing, and we always look for negative things so we have to start looking for positive things," said St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor, whose team plays the Warriors on May 30.

"The game will flow cleaner with a six-to-go, that’s a really good rule, I think, to try.

"It’s here and it’s fair game because no one has got any advantage because we have all been given the rules to play under at the same time."

Morris addressed the Sharks players about the changes at training on Friday.

"I said to the boys today that there is so much that has happened over this last six-to-eight week period that we haven’t been able to control, and we have just get on with it and adapt," Morris said.

Unlike the English Premier League, where some clubs don’t want the competition to resume if they have to surrender home-ground advantage even though there will be no crowds allowed, NRL players, coaches and officials have adopted a "whatever it takes" attitude.

Across the board 20% pay cuts for players, strict biosecurity measures and compulsory flu jabs are just some of the changes that have already occurred, while Warriors players are spending 18 days in quarantine after returning to Australia from New Zealand.

Cleary finds positives in new fixtures

Organising for the Warriors to travel from Auckland to Tamworth involved negotiations with the New Zealand, Australian and NSW governments, while the Queensland government initially opposed the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans training and playing in the state.

The Warriors are prepared to base themselves in Gosford for up to five months and play in NSW to ensure the viability of the competition, while the Storm relocated to Albury for a week to train and don’t expect any home games in Melbourne for up to eight weeks.

The 10 NSW clubs and Canberra may share venues in Sydney for cost and biosecurity reasons.

"There are bigger things in the world than the Knights having to travel down to Sydney on a bus," Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien told reporters on Thursday. "I don’t care who we play. I just need to know what day we play."

The other thing all coaches and players know is that with 18 consecutive weeks of matches, the 2020 season is going to be the most intense any of them have experienced as there are no byes or split rounds for State of Origin.

It is the first time in 40 years that the premiership hasn’t been interrupted by Origin and with the NRL grand final on October 25, an announcement will be made next week with the series expected to be played on three consecutive Wednesday nights in November.

"Once the games start they don’t stop until the end of the finals so after 12 or 13 weeks in you are going to start to see some signs that physically it is hard to keep that intensity up every week," Morris said.

"That’s where your depth is going to get tested and … the teams that can stay in the fight, back up their performances and stay consistently strong on and off the field are the ones who are going to be there at the back end of the year."

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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