10 Headlines The NRL Hopes You Won't Be Reading This Season
The wait is over.
After a long off-season, the 2020 NRL season kicks off with a bang on Thursday night. And one thing is certain -- there will be no shortage of drama over the next seven months.
Of course, the league would prefer the drama stay on the field, but things don't always work out that way.
Here are 10 horror headlines they hope you don't end up seeing over the course of the season...
Season Opener Marred By Fiji Court Decision
The stage is set for a massive kick-off to the 2020 season, with Parramatta hosting arch-rivals Canterbury before a big crowd at Bankwest Stadium.
Just hours before we get underway, a Fijian court will hear an indecent assault charge against Parramatta winger Maika Sivo. It's alleged he touched the skirt of a waitress during a trip to his homeland on Boxing Day.
The NRL has given Sivo the okay to play while proceedings are heard in court -- and they will be desperately hoping there are no damaging headlines overshadowing the on-field action.
Coronavirus Leaves Stadiums Empty
The NRL says it has no immediate concerns over staging games despite coronavirus causing major chaos to sporting events around the world. Cycling, tennis, golf, football and rugby union have all been hit, with events either cancelled or played before empty stadiums.
The Olympic Games and Euro 2020 are also in doubt, so you'd be a fool to think the NRL will be completely immune from the threat.
Kalyn Ponga Knocks Back Knights To Chase All Blacks Dream
So you reckon there's going to be plenty of interest in the new Bachelor, Locky Gilbert? Well, he won't have as many potential suitors as Newcastle superstar Kalyn Ponga.
Officially able to field offers from November 1, Ponga will have the entire rugby league world on bended knee proposing multi-year, multi-million dollar deals. But it's rugby league's oldest nemesis -- rugby union -- that could win his heart and mind.
Ponga, whose parents are Kiwi, has openly expressed a desire to represent the All Blacks and time is ticking on a decision. The NRL would be devastated to lose its golden boy to that other code.
Ricky Stuart And Craig Bellamy Mellow With Age
It was one of the great moments of 2019. Melbourne Storm were doing it tough during a game when a staffer innocently offered Craig Bellamy a plate of ageing leftovers inside the Storm coaching box. Talk about being handed a sh*t sandwich. The look of disdain on Craig Bellamy's face was priceless. Bellamy's coaching box blow-ups are legendary and compulsory viewing -- even when Melbourne are in front.
Ricky Stuart likes to vent out in the open, preferring the sideline to the coaching box. He once kicked a plastic chair into Row N after a decision went against his Raiders. Even when times are good, Sticky has been known to turn all UFC on a fellow employee as way of celebration.
Please don't go changing, boys.
Club In Crisis After Another Sex Tape Emerges
No way. The players have learned their lesson after the Tyrone May incident.
Then again, this is rugby league we're talking about.
Roosters Make It A 3-Peat
The NRL proudly boasts their controversial salary cap has made the competition more even than ever. They proudly point to the fact we've had seven different winners in the past decade. That's all well and good until a team starts winning… and wins again.
The Roosters are on track to become the first team since Parramatta (1981-82-83) to win three in a row. It's not boring for Chooks fans, and their team will be right up there again.
The NRL doesn’t play favourites (cough, cough) but will be secretly hoping a team not clad in red, white and blue is holding the trophy up on October 4.
Latrell Mitchell Steps Away From The NRL Thanks To Trolls
To most, Mitchell is a rugby league treasure. He is a brilliant player, capable of winning a game with a solitary moment of magic. But that flashy smile we often see on the field is not always carried off it. The new South Sydney recruit has been targeted by a small but vicious group of online trolls, upset by his strong stance on Indigenous affairs.
Mitchell is not backing down, and nor should he. But after the hardship he and his family endured, how much will be too much?
Warriors Fall Again
The Warriors are like that unfaithful partner you keep giving a second chance to. Surely they mean it when they say they won't let you down this time?
Except they do.
Year after year, the New Zealanders fail to live up to the hype and expectation. The NRL would love the men in black to prove everyone wrong in 2020.
Arabella Del Busso Starts Dating Another NRL Star
After putting poor old Josh Reynolds through the wringer, the NRL will be hoping Arabella Del Russo (or whatever her name is this week) switches codes -- permanently -- and leaves rugby league players alone.
Del Busso, who allegedly faked cancer and three pregnancies over the course of their relationship, brought assault charges against Reynolds -- charges which were later dropped by police due to a lack of evidence.
Adelaide Turns Its Back On State Of Origin
The Origin roadshow stops for the first time in Adelaide this year, with the City of Churches hosting game one on June 3. Origin has been a success in non-league states Melbourne and Perth, but Adelaide may be the hardest market to crack.
At least it will give the locals something to do after 8pm.