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The Forward Pass | Five things which will make the NRL great again in 2019

The fake news that’s actually fake.

NRL Dump the Bunker after Round One

Frustrated after an opening round filled with mistakes and social media backlash, the NRL disband the Bunker forever, distributing Bunker officials to eight at-ground video referee positions. It’s a brilliant move, with a 90 per cent video referee success rate and the main referees’ performances improving. With fans able to enjoy the game again, TV rating for Nine and Fox rapidly increase, as do crowds, which makes everyone happy.

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Suncorp Stadium Renamed for Magic Round 

Keen to capitalise on the Magic Round hype, Stadiums Queensland announce Suncorp Stadium will be renamed Lang Park for that weekend. The media eat it up and it’s such a success that the stadium is permanently renamed Suncorp-Lang Park.

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Perth Finally Gets a New Team

When 60,000 Western Australians watch NSW clinch the Origin series at Optus Stadium, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg immediately announces a new Perth team. The struggling Wests Tigers (with just four wins so far) are relocated to Optus Stadium and renamed the Western Australia Tigers (with WA gold added to the Tigers’ orange, black and white). Keen to see the expansion club succeed, WA are given plenty of Friday night games, allowing for a mammoth Friday triple header, and a live Friday double header for Nine. WA win their first three games, but narrowly miss the finals. Hopes are high for a 2020 finals spot.

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Stuart Leads Canberra to Drought-Breaking Premiership 

It’s a fairytale finish to 2019, with Canberra beating Cronulla in the grand final 24-12. Frustrated after two close losses to Gold Coast and Melbourne, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart un-retires to become player-coach, playing halfback and leading Canberra to the top four, beating Souths and the Sydney Roosters in the finals. Cronulla, galvanised by off-season controversy (and a motivated Shaun Johnson) finishes third, beating Melbourne and Souths in the finals. Stuart scores the opening two tries in the grand final as the Raiders lead 18-6 at halftime.

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Tonga Win Tri-Series

After another successful Pacific Test, the NRL hastily organise a post-season Tri-Series (in Australia and New Zealand) with Australia, New Zealand and Tonga. The Tongans upset Australia 12-6 in the final at a sold out Mt. Smart Stadium.

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The Forward Pass is a fictional and deliberately ridiculous look at the NRL. References to real people is for satirical purposes only. Check it out on Twitter @thefwdpass

 

Deputy Sports Editor for the Australian Times Weekly

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