Covid is still here, still affecting our lives, and it will have an effect on the 2022 NRL season.
Right now overseas we are seeing the NBA playing through Covid outbreaks among every single team in the league. This has seen new rules put into place in terms of how clubs can bring lower grade players into the NBA on short term deals, and allowing it to work under the current salary cap system. It has seen a big change to the betting markets for who will win the title too, with www.novibet.co.uk adjusting their odds on who will win the NBA title accordingly.
Some teams have coped better than others, and I suspect we will see a similar situation in the NRL this year.
Teams with a lot of depth, not just at first grade level, but through their feeder systems, will do better than those clubs who are a little more top heavy. Clubs who have traditionally made an effort to keep strong connections between their grades, and allow players to progress through those levels, already have the culture and infrastructure in place for if Covid hits their teams hard.
Keep in mind, teams won’t just be dealing with Covid losses this year. They’ll be dealing with all the regular issues thats teams have to deal with like injuries, suspensions and simply having to drop players due to loss of form.
It will be really interesting to see what the NRL protocols will be in terms of how long a player infected with Covid will be required to sit out. Currently the NBA allows players back within a week of having a positive test. If the NRL has similar systems in place we could see infected players missing just one game in a best case scenario.
I don’t suspect we will see the best teams tumble down the ladder, or a weaker team surge up the standings because of Covid losses during the season. However I think we could see teams on the fringe of the top 8 might sneak their way into the finals if Covid losses for them, and their close opponent work out in their favour.
The big one would be if we get to the finals series and we see star players missing games because of positive Covid tests. Could that mean we see teams get to September and place their players under strict isolation so they don’t lose a key player in an elimination final?
All of this will make for a very interesting season, and one that will test a clubs overall depth like few others we have seen in recent history.
I can’t wait for it to begin.