Long off-season wait for NRL fans

One hundred and fifty one days.

That’s how long NRL fans will have to wait between doses of football, as Australian rugby league takes a post-grand final hiatus, and a deep collective breath, following North Queensland’s dramatic premiership victory.

For the first time in over a decade the Kangaroos won’t play an end-of-season fixture.

That will give fans, and grand final losers Brisbane, plenty of time to recover from one of the most pulsating ends to a season.

After a 2014 season that was almost unprecedented in its nine-month duration, most of the NRL’s elite will have a well-earned rest before kicking off their 2016 campaigns.

The new season will start on March 3, 151 days since the Cowboys’ epic 17-16 win over Brisbane.

The Kiwis will play three Tests in England next month, on a tour that has been hit by a string of big-name withdrawals due to injury.

But the Kangaroos won’t play any end-of-season fixture for the first time since 2002.

The lay-off is a welcome relief to Australia’s NRL stars.

Player burnout continues to be one of the biggest issues in the game.

South Sydney superstar Greg Inglis has been one of the worst affected. He has played 57 games over the past two seasons.

He played 32 games last year and 25 this season, as he struggled with a knee injury over the past month of the Rabbitohs’ failed premiership defence.

Australian, Queensland and Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is one player who has spoken of his fears of player burnout. He is looking forward to a rest.

“Personally I’m looking forward to a break to be honest,” Smith said.

“It has been a pretty busy few years of rep footy and I’m sure all the guys who have been involved in those Australian teams for several seasons now are looking forward to having a break and getting our bodies right, then coming back for a fullish pre-season.”

A number of sides, including Manly under new coach Trent Barrett, are expected to begin pre-season training in the first week of November.

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