THE late Kevin Humphreys was considered a rugby league visionary during his turbulent reign as Australian Rugby League supremo.
But nothing he ever initiated or achieved in the '70s or '80s could match the breathtaking new proposal that his son, Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys, raised at this week's chief executives conference, and which he hopes to deliver over the next two years.
The catalyst for his plan for a 30-week season, with games reduced to 60 minutes or four quarters to prevent player burnout, is the hopelessly unfair premiership draw that currently exists.
"The first thought is if you have a full home and away season, you remove the inequality and you should be able to drive more revenue for clubs," Humphreys says.
"The broadcast rights, the grant clubs get from the NRL, as well as the gate receipts, sponsorship values and all your other revenue items would increase."
Humphreys believes the season could be extended to 30 weeks so clubs play each other twice. Game time would be reduced to possibly 60 minutes to prevent player burnout or 80-minute games would remain but be played over four quarters, which would appeal to TV networks selling advertising.
Coaches would be banned from using players in any more than 25 games to protect them from suffering more injuries.
Humphreys first raised his idea at a CEOs meeting earlier this year but got only a lukewarm response.
"At first glance it might seem too hard, but if you put a bit more effort into thinking about it there are quite a few positives. It's worth too much to ignore," he said.
"When I put forward the ideas originally I think it was a bit too hard at the first pass for others.
"I started getting a bit of traction at the meeting on Tuesday. I'm going to put a paper together on it and we're going to meet again in about four or five weeks. We've certainly got something we can take to the TV stations.
"We've got a very appealing product so I don't see why a bit more of it is not going to be worth a bit more to us all."
Humphreys has spoken about the proposal to superstars of the game, including Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah at the Tigers.
"I ran it past a cross-section of eight or so players. If it meant they could share in the upside and get a reasonable lift in their earnings, they'd be up for it," he said.
"They are full-time players, they're going to be with you 11 months of the year just like any other employee.
"When they're not playing they're training. The vast majority of players would rather play than train.
"If we can drive some reasonable incremental revenue into the game that can be shared with the players, everyone's onside because the players and clubs get more money and the fans get more footy - and we could all do away with playing trial matches."
The NRL has a season structure committee headed by Graham Annesley that includes marketing boss Paul Kind and club chief executives Peter Doust (Dragons), Humphreys and Peter Parr (the Cowboys).
Annesley said last night: "We'll be looking at all options. We never say no to anything and obviously player workloads are at the top of our minds. Who knows, 60-minute games could even be more exciting and more explosive.
"We shouldn't rule out anything."
Once Humphreys delivers his final plan, CEO David Gallop will take it to the networks as part of negotiations for the next broadcasting deal.
It's wrong having a club $800,000 over the salary cap flogging teams every weekend, let alone using a draw that is hopelessly unfair on some clubs but hugely advantageous to others. The top three clubs last season were grand finalists Melbourne Storm and Parramatta, plus the minor premiers St George Illawarra.
The Bulldogs, the Sea Eagles, the Rabbitohs and the Sharks are worst affected under the 2010 draw by having to play the three premiership heavyweights twice during the 26 competition rounds.
The Titans only have to play cap cheats Storm once and the Eels once. The Eels only play against the Storm once.
The Roosters only meet the Eels once and Storm once - smack bang in the middle of Origin when they are fielding basically reserve grade sides.
To highlight the unfairness of the competition even more, the Titans have only one State of Origin player, Ashley Harrison, while other clubs are forced to give up a huge proportion of their salary cap talent to NSW and Queensland for six weeks.
The draw is modelled every season for commercial interests more than anything else.
Each club ranks in order of preference which teams they would prefer to play to help sell season tickets before the rankings are sent to the NRL.
For example, all the Queensland clubs ask to play each other twice. The Sydney clubs want local derbies and blockbusters against traditional Sydney rivals.
"We try to accommodate all the requests from clubs as best as possible," Annesley said. "It's more commercially orientated because clubs want to maximise local derbies and blockbuster games.
"Some clubs can get a massive leg-up but it's purely by luck. If you did the draw on where the clubs finished the previous year, it doesn't always stack up.
"Look at the Bulldogs this season compared to where they finished last year."
Senior players headed by Storm captain Cameron Smith have all complained about the length of the season with trials, 26 premiership rounds, a State of Origin series, City v Country, a finals series and Test matches.
Smith recently said: "It is a big issue with players, particularly guys who play a lot of rep football. I guess that's why guys at the moment are looking at ways to lengthen their careers such as going over to rugby union or going overseas.
"Every time I'm in a [representative] camp it's always brought up between the team.
"We love playing the game, we'd like to play it for our whole lives. But we've only got a certain amount of time and you can only play as long as your body lets you. At the moment it's tough."