THE FORWARD PASS | Five Things to Make the NRL Great Again in 2020

The fake news that’s actually fake.

Canberra wins the Premiership

Motivated by the heartbreaking 2019 grand final loss, Canberra dominates 2020. They comfortably win the minor premiership, and beat Brisbane and Melbourne to make the grand final. The rematch with the Sydney Roosters is one the best – and this time controversy-free – deciders in years. Canberra win 20-12 with a late barging try to Clive Churchill Medallist Josh Papalii, finally breaking their 26-year title drought. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1990 premiership.

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NZ gets an Origin for 2021

After a sold-out Origin in Adelaide, the NRL decides to take game 2 of the 2021 series to Auckland. While some fans complain about Origin leaving Australia, the NRL justifies it by saying the 8pm Sunday kickoff at Mt Smart Stadium is a perfect early evening timeslot for Australian audiences (with Nine shifting their evening news to 4pm to accommodate the game). Lead-up games include the women’s Origin on Friday night at North Sydney Oval, and the Pacific Test triple-header in Wellington on Saturday.

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Alfie Returns

Frustrated by the potential restrictions to the trainers’ on-field time, a bored Allan Langer returns to the Broncos at halfback. Proving that class never goes away, Alfie takes Brisbane to fourth place (and makes more tackles than Darius Boyd). A late-season ankle injury to Alfie hurts the Broncos’ finals hopes, losing to Canberra in the qualifying final and Manly in the semi-final.

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Gus replaces V’landys

After regularly complaining about new Chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission Peter V’landys, Phil ‘Gus’ Gould takes the job mid-season after V’landys resigns. Gus replaces the hated 6pm Friday game with another Sunday afternoon game on Channel Nine (creating a perfect double-header leading into the Sunday night news). Mass expansion is also on his list, with the Brisbane Bombers, Perth’s West Coast Pirates, and the Central Coast Bears to enter the NRL by 2025. The best thing: Gus is no longer allowed to commentate for Nine.

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The Titans make the finals

New coach Justin Holbrook has an immediate impact on the Gold Coast Titans, with the 2019 wooden spooners making the 2020 finals, squeezing out the ninth-placed Wests Tigers by one win. While the Titans lose the elimination final to Penrith, fans are impressed by their tenacity, with seven of the Titans’ thirteen wins by four points or less.

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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
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