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Your Guide to surviving the NRL off-season

The NRL off-season; a painful time for most of us as we struggle without the greatest game of all on our screens each and every weekend.

Like many who were brought up on Rugby League, I struggle during the months of October to March.

This year was made all the more difficult by the World Cup being called off for very real Covid concerns.

Although I absolutely agree with the decision, the lack of post season League games has made it even more difficult.

Of course I type that with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but the NRL off-season is most certainly the least favourite time of my every year.

Over the years I have constructed the perfect sporting smorgasbord to help me through the tough times.

We all have our rituals. Some date. Some interact with family and friends.

For those of us who need their week(end)ly fix of sporting activity, I have you covered.

The below events are how I navigate the, quite frankly AWFUL, NRL off-season.

NFL: Redzone

I have literally lost count of how many times Scott Hanson and his team have saved my Monday morning. Their efforts also go a LONG way to making the NRL off-season far more bearable.

For those who haven’t logged into the service (via ESPN online or the app) Hanson hosts a multiple hour long feast of football.

Every time a team enters the “Red Zone” or likely scoring zone, the coverage switches. Two teams across two games looking as though they’re likely to score? Split-Screen!

There are times the screen is split four or five times as the afternoon games hit their peak.

Simply put, it is bliss each and every Monday morning (ADST) of the NFL season. This year you even get the extra week due to the extension of the season.

For those of us starting work at 8:30 am, once Daylight Saving takes place, and those in the US go an hour backward, the 8:30 timeslot keeps us entertained all morning.

The 12:30pm Prime Time game then takes over. By the time the footy ends, it’s almost 4pm and Monday is almost navigated.

Talk about a brilliant way to start off the week!

Big Bash League - Semi Finals: Scorchers v Stars : News Photo
Photo: Getty Images

WBBL/BBL

My personal favourite, and the main source of comfort when there is no Rugby League on my screen.

Many criticise the admittedly over-the-top games contested during a full BBL season.

That said, nothing makes me happier coming home from my work on a Summer evening to see 40 overs of balls flying all over packed staiums.

The BBL is the source of much enjoyment, but also much frustration due to my own choices. As a Sydney Thunder fan, more often games are painful.

Yet still enjoyable.

Add to that the WBBL, which is the highest quality female cricketing tournament in the world, and you have yourself covered from late September to mid February.

UFC International Fight Week : News Photo
Photo: Getty Images

UFC Sundays

Sunday is for Rugby League. So to are Saturday, Friday evening and night and Thursday night, but the UFC goes a long way to easing the pain on one of those days.

Another sport that better completes the job once Daylight Savings kicks in, but if you include the Prelim (or fights that take place before the main show) a good UFC card can fill your entire Sunday.

There isn’t much better than gathering at the local with your mates. Few beers. Bowls of chips on the table.

The only thing I can think of is taking that aforementioned scenario and adding a massive battle in the Octagon.

UFC casuals (i.e. those who watch when it’s convenient) will likely have been dragged along to see a Conor McGregor fight. Trust me, not all the fight cards are as well attended.

That said, you often see the same groups of mates (and you’d be shocked as to how many females love the sport) ever Supercard Sunday.

Between the Pay-Per-View cards are almost weekly Fight Night cards.

For those who don’t want to pay, or spend the day sinking schooners and watching on the local’s big screen, Fight Nights are free cards on ESPN.

Spending a Sunday afternoon sipping ales while describing how you’d escape holds that sink the sport’s elite is an Australian tradition!

Pre-Season Televised

Let’s not forget the brilliant news that broke recently; that all NRL pre-season games will be televised.

This, effectively, means that the NRL pre-season is three or four weeks shorter. Every day counts!

I love the NRL pre-season. I’d hate to admit how many hours I’ve sent watching grainy streams contested between teams of which I (an NRL fanatic) couldn’t name a single player.

Sign me up!

For many the All Star game is a genuine highlight of the season. I love the Community Shield between the Bunnies and Dragons.

For most fans, that Shield game is the first game of the season purely because it’s televised and competed between two almost full strength sides.

Even if the NRL streams are simply broadcast, I’m all for it. I’ve watched lesser quality games in the past.

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