NRL leaning towards mid-year State of Origin return

State of Origin will feel a little different in 2020. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Peter V'landys expects State of Origin to return to the middle of next year but says he could be swayed if 2020 is a runaway success.

This year's end-of-season Origin series is the first of its kind, with next Wednesday's opener to kick off three games inside 15 days.

The placement of next year's series is likely to remain a talking point throughout, as the NRL begin planning their 2021 schedule amid the hoped emergence out of COVID-19.

V'landys said his ARL Commission were yet to make a final call on next year's series, but said he was leaning towards the more traditional timeslot.

"We'll just wait and see how successful it is as a stand alone," V'landys said.

"We made it a stand alone for the integrity of the competition. If you took your best players out mid-season it could have affected teams.

"Because it was going to be five less rounds we wanted to make sure every team had every opportunity to make the top eight.

"That's why we made the decision, but if it's a runaway success we might look at it again.

"At this stage it will go back to mid-season. But in anything you do you have to have an open mind and be agile."

The bonus of having players available for every round of the regular season is a big plus for the end-of-year series, as well as the chance for bigger crowds this year.

Television ratings will, however, be a telling factor as well as challenges around player availability with Tom Trbojevic, David Fifita, Kotoni Staggs and Kalyn Ponga among those out.

Meanwhile the NRL is still working through what next year will look like.

It's hoped when the first players return to training at the end of next month bubble conditions won't be as strict and relative freedom is allowed.

"We've got the benefit of a lot of learning from 2020 for what did and didn't work," CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"So going into next year, even with restrictions and protocols, we'll be able to do things in a much more sustainable way.

"Obviously we're very hopeful we'll have a vaccine or therapies available that almost eliminate this from the community.

"But we'll be ready for whatever 2021 brings."