Tallis: 2020 will be hardest premiership in league history
IGNORE the haters. The 2020 NRL premiership will be as memorable as any in rugby league's rich history.
After two months in hibernation, the NRL will set a benchmark in world sport when footy returns on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium when the Broncos take on Parramatta.
The interest will be enormous, not only in Australia but in parts of the world the NRL has never reached.
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There have been suggestions the competition has no integrity this year and is only playing to make money and survive.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
It has taken a monumental effort by independent commission chairman Peter V'landys and the NRL to get the game back up and running.
They have fought tooth and nail with governments, broadcasters, unions and the public to bring the game back to life.
Everyone has made sacrifices along the way.
V'landys has been surviving on two hours' sleep and the NRL's heavy-hitters have been working around the clock to make the May 28 relaunch a reality.
The players are adhering to strict isolation protocols while the rest of the country is starting to relax and venture out.
They weren't allowed to visit their families on Mother's Day and can't even go to a cafe on the weekend.
The Warriors have left their loved ones in New Zealand indefinitely to ensure the competition can restart.
Thousands of employees across the game have taken pay cuts or lost their jobs. Others are working overtime for the good of the game.
The greatest rewards in life follow the biggest sacrifices.
That is why this year's premiership will be one of the toughest to win in rugby league's 112-year history.
Every season is tough for different reasons. They all have their own challenges.
But the 2020 season will be remembered for unique reasons.
It may have been reduced by four rounds but that doesn't take the gloss off what will be an incredibly difficult competition to win.
Every game counts and no byes over the next 22 weeks will turn this season into a war of attrition.
The top eight teams at the end of the regular season will deserve to be there.
The competition has had so many excuses to not restart.
There have been pay disputes, government blow-ups, tense broadcast negotiations and players misbehaving.
But it has triumphed in the end and the team celebrating after the October 25 grand final will be as deserving as any other premiers.
For me, that team will be the Canberra Raiders.
I picked them to win the competition in the pre-season and my opinion has not changed.
But what we are about to find out over the next five months is who the mentally toughest teams are.
Some clubs started training in early November and will have to be committed for close to a year to win the premiership.
They will make many more sacrifices than normal to make it happen.
That is why the 2020 NRL premiership will be one to remember, no matter what anyone says.