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NRL champions will be greatest ever says Peter V'landys

Peter V'landys is willing to concede that the winners of Sunday's grand final should have an asterisk next to their name.

In fact not just one, but 20.

Not because this season has been in any way compromised or is worth any less due to COVID-19, but rather it's been the hardest in history to win.

Andrew Johns was among many to claim earlier in the year that this year's winners would have an asterisk next to their name, just like his triumphant Newcastle outfit in 1997.

Johns pointed to the two-month stoppage mid-season, while the reworked draw, less games and mid-season rule changes as some of the reasons.

Try telling Melbourne or Penrith that.

"I think the team that wins this year should have 20 asterisks," ARL Commission chairman V'landys said.

"Because let me tell you there's never been a tougher season or a more worthy winner because of the challenges we had.

"They haven't just gone through a normal season - they (other seasons) should all have asterisks.

'"Because this season is the test of character, the test of everything.

"The team that wins this year is really a champion team, maybe more than any other year."

V'landys, for what it's worth, is backing Penrith in Sunday's decider.

While the Panthers or Melbourne will be crowned champions, 2020 will also be known as the year of V'landys.

On March 23 when the NRL shut down, it seemed inconceivable to think a 20-round competition and finals could be played.

It's easy to forget at one stage the last-ditch plan was to return by the start of September.

In two months that followed the NRL had to deal with a financial crisis, players' unions, flu jabs, referees association, Todd Greenberg's exit, broadcaster dramas and government negotiations.

But somehow, a grand final awaits on Sunday.

"The 28th of May, when we said it there were so many variables," V'landys said.

"I was always very confident we'd get the year back, but you never know.

"I likened it to a hurdle race - you get over one hurdle and you have to knock another one over."

V'landys has always been insistent that his fight to race on during the equine influenza of 2007 steeled him for 2020.

He labelled the success in moving the Warriors to Australia at the start of May as the turning point, fearing it all could have come undone if the transition did not work perfectly.

"The winner for me was convincing the State Government to allow the Warriors to train when they were in quarantine," V'landys said.

"We selected a site like Tamworth where they could train together and play together.

"Otherwise they would have been stuck in a hotel in the city and they'd be two weeks behind, so you have to give them another two weeks (to prepare).

"That was the crucial moment for me. Without that, everything could have gone pear-shaped."