The NRL have proposed to introduce a ‘Wildcard Weekend’ as part of a new finals system that could be brought into fruition in 2020.
Under the proposed concept, the teams finishing ninth and 10th at the end of the regular season would be given a chance to qualify for the finals by beating the seventh and eighth ranked teams.
The top six teams would have the weekend off, while the team finishing seventh plays team 10 and the eighth-ranked side meets team nine in sudden-death play-offs.
The final series would then kick off in its current format, with the top four playing in qualifying finals and the teams finishing fifth and sixth playing elimination matches against the winners from the Wildcard Weekend.
It is anticipated the new concept would benefit clubs financially by increasing crowds and television audiences in the latter stages of the season when teams are no longer in play-off contention.
The number of ‘dead’ matches – those in which one or both teams could not make the finals – have been increasing each season and were at a record high of 36 in 2018.