Ready to play football

Ready to go: Dragons forward Trent Merrin said everyone's ready to get out there and play football. Picture: Chris Lane

Ready to go: Dragons forward Trent Merrin said everyone's ready to get out there and play football. Picture: Chris Lane

After more than two months of no game time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next two rounds of the NRL season have been announced after the last whistle was blown on March 22.

To restart the 2020 season the Broncos will host the Eels on Thursday, May 28, to showcase the restart of the NRL year at a venue in Queensland after the state government approved travel across its borders.

On Saturday, May 30, the Warriors - who are playing out of NSW due to Trans-Tasman travel restrictions will come up against the Dragons at 3 pm with one team to claim their first 2020 victory.

In round four, the NRL has locked in the annual Queen's Birthday clash between the Dragons and Bulldogs on Monday, June 8.

Round four will feature three matches played in Queensland with the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans all hosting clubs from NSW.

The remainder of the draw for the 2020 season is expected to be finalised in the coming week, with details of the round three and four matches also expected.

In more news, the ARL Commission has agreed to adopt a one-referee rule for the remainder of the season.

The NRL is the only rugby league competition in the world that uses two referees. Tests use one referee and that rule has been used in the NRL-Indigenous All-Stars game on a trial basis.

Under the changes, full-time referees will also be used as touch judges to increase the experience in touchline officiating.

"The decision shouldn't be seen as taking one referee out it should be that we are using three full time experienced referees controlling the game which will ensure greater surveillance of the ruck and the wrestle," Commissioner Peter V'landys said.

"This decision will significantly reduce the number of stoppages in games and showcase more open unstructured play for the benefit of fans."

In tandem with the return to a single referee - which was how the game was officiated before 2009 - is a "six-again" rule allowing an attacking team another full set rather than stopping play for a penalty.

At the end of the year, the Commission will review the one-referee model to determine whether it remains a permanent fixture for future seasons.

Before the announcement, fans, players and coaches were divided on whether it was the right call.

Dragons forward Trent Merrin who has started both games this year off the bench and who has been playing under the one ref in England said he doesn't mind the one referee.

"I think you can get away with a bit more playing in the middle-Its still the same game at the end of the day."

"There's pros and cons for both systems with two refs the game is sped up a bit more-even with two refs everyone is trying to slow the rucks down. There will always be a new thing to slow it down."

Merrin said the first upcoming games might have teams feeling things out a bit at the start, but the Dragons are ready to hit the ground running.