On this day, the Sea Eagles and Eels join the competition, Wayne Bennett signs on with the Knights and Nick Politis calls for all clubs to restart the 2020 competition on zero points after the COVID-19 break.
Manly and Parramatta play their first matches in the premiership competition. Manly are pipped 15-13 by Western Suburbs at Brookvale Oval, despite scoring three tries to one. Parramatta are beaten 34-12 by Newtown at Parramatta’s Cumberland Oval.
Canberra stage a fightback from 20-2 down to beat Manly 26-20 at Bruce Stadium. Raiders’ halfback Ricky Stuart is readmitted to hospital with migraine headaches.
A newspaper survey of all 14 NRL coaches reveals that only four are opposed to video referees adjudicating on forward passes.
Newcastle’s record-breaking 10th consecutive victory is tempered by a serious knee injury to representative winger Adam MacDougall. The Knights down a depleted Sydney Roosters 28-12.
Malcolm Reilly, who guided Newcastle to the 1997 premiership, says the Knights let Andrew Johns down in the latter years of his career by not offering him more support from his forwards. “When I was involved we had a very strong pack and we were aware that with an asset like [Johns] in our team," Reilly tells the Sydney Morning Herald. "We had to protect him. I don’t know if he got that protection from the club later on."
Wayne Bennett ends months of speculation by revealing he has signed a four-year deal to coach the Newcastle Knights. Estimates of the value of the deal range from $1 million to $2 million per season. The decision puts incumbent coach Rick Stone out of a job although the Knights’ new management insist they want him to remain involved with the club. Dragons fullback Darius Boyd is expected to follow Bennett to Newcastle.
Sonny Bill Williams demolishes Bulldogs
Immortal Andrew Johns says he is “terrified” at the poor form of incumbent New South Wales halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson as the State of Origin series approaches. Johns tells the Sunday Footy Show that on current form, the Canterbury pair “can’t be picked” for the Blues.
Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis calls for all clubs to restart the NRL season on zero points to protect the integrity of the competition. Politis tells the Sunday Telegraph "if you change the draw, you’ve got to start again. If the current points are to stand, we have to play over a full season." The suggestion sparks a fierce backlash as fans, players and politicians demand that the points from the opening two rounds stand. ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys confirms that points from the opening two rounds will remain in place (April 13).
NSW deputy premier John Barilaro pledges state government support for the NRL’s restart on May 28, stressing that "Rugby League is at the heart of everything we do in NSW".
This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.