NRL offered a slice of paradise to resume competition


The Whitsundays have offered the NRL a "Slice of Paradise" under a relocation plan to revive the competition by housing the code's 480 stars at Hamilton, Daydream and Hayman Islands.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys have fielded a proposal outlining plans to move all 16 clubs to the world-famous Whitsundays to help the code avoid financial ruin during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NRL's innovation committee will meet on Thursday to discuss a number of key agenda items, including biosecurity measures and where best to position NRL stars if the competition resumes on June 1.

The committee has received applications from a number of potential regions, including Calliope near Gladstone, Tangalooma Island Resort, Townsville and a possible Sydney site near ANZ Stadium at Homebush.

Could the NRL relocate to the Whitsundays?
Could the NRL relocate to the Whitsundays?

Now the Whitsundays have put out the welcome mat with local MP Jason Costigan, a former rugby league commentator, formulating a proposal to bring the NRL premiership to the tropical far north.

"We could provide a very special sanctuary for the players, coaching staff and support staff, while adhering to strict quarantine regulations that are there for good reason," said Costigan, the North Queensland First political leader.

"Not only that, our warm, tropical climate is far superior to other options that have been canvassed in the media.

"If the NRL seriously wants to fire up by early June, I am very confident I could get the local council to pull out all the stops to get the Airlie Beach Sports Park, which has previously hosted an Intrust Super Cup game, ready for the stars and showmen who make up the NRL competition.

"The playing field would need some work but it could be done in the next six to eight weeks so we are able to get a 2020 NRL competition going in whatever format the league bosses choose.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has sent his plan to the NRL.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has sent his plan to the NRL.

"As it starts to get colder down south and those winds begin to bite (with the dangers of the winter flu season), we could literally save the game from financial oblivion, hence I'm floating the idea.

"I shared an office with Todd Greenberg at Belmore back in 1999 (when Costigan was a media staffer at the Canterbury Bulldogs) and we get on well.

"Right now, it's sitting in his inbox, a letter that spells out that our magnificent and world famous tourist destination would dearly love the opportunity to host the 2020 NRL season, however he and his colleagues wish to structure the competition."

Costigan said the Whitsunday plan could provide grounds in Airlie Beach, Bowen and Proserpine with NRL players transported to the mainland by high-speed catamarans.

"I urge the NRL bosses to seriously look at what we have to offer and get in touch if they agree that our region, right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef could host the 2020 NRL competition," he said.

Originally published as NRL offered a slice of paradise to resume competition