The Newcastle Rugby League have released a new, abbreviated 14-round draw in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with kick-off scheduled for Sunday, May 31.
This of course is subject to the situation not worsening - an optimistic view in light of the increasing numbers of those affected.
The draw could, if needed, start in mid-June, with the finals series reduced from four weeks to two weeks to still allow a grand final on September 27.
The two representative rounds in the original draw have been cut.
"It's a competition that won't allow for a slow start," Pickers president Frank Lawler said. "Teams will need to hit the ground running which is going to be really difficult after the forced lay-off. Those who struggle early won't have the time to claw back points - a competition like we've not seen before."
Lawler said it was still possible, if everything goes well, to fit in a trial game before the season kicks off.
"We have a trial scheduled against South Newcastle in mid May, but most people would agree that things are probably going to get worse before they get better, so we'll see," he said. "I guess it's something to hold on to - that at this stage we still have a season in front of us - but things are changing quickly."
Here is the Pickers' updated draw.
Rd 1 (May 31) :Cessnock v Maitland at Cessnock
Rd 2 (June 6-7): Maitland v Central at Maitland
Rd 3 (June 13-14): Maitland v Macquarie at Maitland
Rd 4 (June 20-21): Lakes v Maitland at Cahill Oval
Rd 5 (June 27-28): Kurri v Maitland at Kurrii
Rd 6 (July 4-5):
South Newcastle v Maitland at Townson Oval
Rd 7 (July 11-12): Maitland v Cessnock at Maitland
Rd 8 (July 18-19):Maitland v Western Suburbs at Maitland
Rd 9 (July 25-26): Central v Maitland at St John Oval
Rd 10 (August 1-2): Western Suburbs v Maitland at Harker Oval
Rd 11(Auguest 8-9): Maitland v South Newcastle at Maitland
Rd 12 (August 15-16): Maitland v Kurri Kurri at Maitland
Rd 13 ( August 22-23): Maitland v Lakes at Maitland
Rd 14 (August 29-30) Macquarie v Maitland at Peacock Field.
Semis and finals from September 5-6, with grand final scheduled for September 27.
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