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Week on the Punt: NRL return in motion as AFL talks stall

Collingwood AFL betting news

It appears as if top-tier sport could return sooner than we thought after several major developments worldwide. Here are the biggest headlines in sport and racing this week.

NRL set to return on May 28

Earlier this week, the Australian Rugby League Commission announced that the 2020 NRL Premiership season would resume on May 28 in a revised format.

The home-and-away fixture will run for 20 rounds, including the two that were completed before the league went on hiatus in March, with all matches to be played behind closed doors until further notice.

A full postseason will culminate in the NRL Grand Final on October 25, while the 2020 State of Origin series has been shifted to November.

The revamped draw for the NRL 2020 season will be released in the next few weeks.

Tensions rise over proposed AFL isolation hub

The AFL has been working hard to conjure a way to restart the season, but the idea of isolation hubs has caused mass drama.

Iso hubs would feature a group of teams all staying in the same facilities and playing matches against one another, like a cross between Big Brother and the FIFA World Cup group stage.

The idea was implied to be a worst-case scenario situation, but the notion of separating players from their families for up to 20 weeks has not gone down well

Several players, including Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom and North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein, have said they would not take any part if such a format was implemented.

Pies president Eddie McGuire (pictured) has labelled the idea as extreme and a doomsday scenario, while former Fremantle star Matthew Pavlich has suggested an alternative approach.

“A good compromise would be where you go into these hubs for about a month and let’s say you play every five or six days, you could knock out five or six games in a month,” said Pavlich, who served as president of the AFL Players Association from 2015-2017.

Group 1 racing action on Morphettville Oaks Day

We move away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney to South Australia as the Morphettville races take centre stage.

There are two Group 1 races on the Morphettville Oaks Day card, meaning more prize money and better horses than your run-of-the-mill race.

The seventh race on the bill in the 2000m Schweppes Oaks, also known as the Australasian Oaks, which has a $500,000 prize pool.

The very next event is the 1200m TAB Classic, or the Robert Sangster Stakes, which boasts a $1 million purse and counts Black Caviar (2012) among its former winners.

NBA players to train individually within team facilities

Some parts of the United States are beginning to loosen their lockdown restrictions, which has forced the NBA to make a decision.

An anonymous source claims the league will allow players to return to their practice facilities by Friday if their state has lifted restrictions, but group training will still be forbidden.

The news comes as a blessing to the many players who have been stuck at home since March 19 without a court to shoot around or an open area to get a good sweat going.

As the USA continues to battle rising COVID-19 infection rates, there word yet on when the NBA might return.

Thiem refuses to share winnings with lower-ranked tennis pros

The president of the ATP Player Council, Novak Djokovic, has suggested higher-ranked players should donate some of their prize money to help out the lower-ranked members of the tour.

The idea has won the approval of several players in the top 100, but fifth-ranked Dominic Thiem does not agree with the proposal.

The 2020 Australian Open finalist has made it clear that he will not be donating any of his winnings to fellow players, as he would rather give money to those that need it such as poor people or charitable institutions.

The ATP Player Council is asking the top players on tour to give up US $30,000 each, which would barely dent the $2.7 million Thiem has already made in 2020.

Nick Kyrgios fired back at Thiem for the suggestion that lower-ranked players don’t deserve the financial help.

“It’s about helping where we can, professional or unprofessional, put yourself in their shoes,” said Kyrgios, whose philanthropic streak came to the fore during the Australian bushfire crisis.

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