No bark as ‘benched’

THE Bulldogs have been benched alongside the other 15 teams with the coronavirus pandemic causing the suspension of the NRL competition.

THEY were among a privileged few who attended the first NRL match without a crowd but for the Averillo family (pictured) it meant so much more. Mick and Bev were in the stands to watch their son Jake debut for the Bulldogs in the clash against the Cowboys. His girlfriend Charli was also supporting from the sideline. The talented 19-year-old who was a product of the Moorebank Rams, has progressed through the Bulldogs junior system, playing in the Canterbury Cup last year which led to being named in the club’s Top 30 this season. He also impressed in this year’s pre-season during matches against the Sharks and Raiders, in addition to appearing in the Perth Nines.

The decision came after the last round was played without a crowd – the Bulldogs going down to the Cowboys 24-16.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said the advice from pandemic and biosecurity experts was that because of the outbreak, it was no longer safe for players to play.
He said said it was a devastating day for rugby league, but in light of the dramatic shift in advice and restrictions, it was the only possible outcome.
“This is a dark day in our game’s history,” Mr V’landys said. “But we had to take this unprecedented action as there was simply no other option.
“We have always said we would continue but only as long it was safe to do so.
“When the advice tells us, we can no longer guarantee player safety because of the rapid rate at which infection is spreading, we must act accordingly. We will monitor the advice daily and recommence when it is simply safe and prudent to do so.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the challenge to the game’s future was enormous but rugby league would endure the challenge, no matter it’s length or severity.
“Our game has never faced a challenge like this. So, while this is a tough day for our game, we know it is a tough time for everyone across the entire community,” Greenberg said.
“So, while we cannot say with certainty what the future holds, I know the rugby league community as a whole will work through this as a team.”