The NRL's Project Apollo says the coronavirus-halted competition will resume on May 28 – but relationships between the code and its main broadcaster Channel 9 have hit a new low.
Project Apollo committee member and former Balmain Tigers hero Wayne Pearce has confirmed that the NRL intends to return in late May.
Pearce told Channel 9: "I am pleased to announce that we are planning a competition start on May 28.
"The details of the competition structure we haven't got to that yet, because the landscape is changing very quickly as to the protocols around governments and government boundaries.
"That will feed into the complexity of the structure. So today was about confirming a starting date."
All NRL club CEOs will be updated with the governing body's plan and as reported yesterday, it seems the likelier outcome will be a 15-round, Sydney-based competition, which will force non-NSW teams to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
The 2020 State of Origin series seems likely to go ahead and will be played later than usual, though the structure of rugby league's showpiece event is unknown at this point.
Earlier though the NRL were blindsided by an outburst from their main broadcast partner Channel 9.
Nine league reporter Danny Weidler explained the annoyance and disappointment the 'home of footy' feels: "They have a major problem – the Nine Network has largely been left out of planning and discussions for season 2020, and the view right now is that they are seething about this.
"I can tell you their view is the current season is now gone, and the NRL want to launch an alternative season even though it hasn’t been discussed with Channel 9."
A statement from Nine added: "In the past, the NRL have had problems and we’ve bailed them out many times, including a $50 million loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed.
"It would now appear that much of that has now been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of clubs, players and supporters.