Coronavirus: Great Britain still hopeful rugby league's Ashes against Australia goes ahead

England's Rugby Football League is battling to preserve the Ashes Series with Australia and has changed its rules on insolvency in a bid to keep clubs afloat during the shutdown.

The decision by Australia's National Rugby League to suspend its domestic season indefinitely, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, increases the likelihood that the eagerly-awaited Kangaroos tour in October and November will be cancelled.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer, who admits that would present a huge financial blow to the English game ahead of the 2021 World Cup in this country, says the NRL decision comes as no surprise.

"We were expecting it," he told the PA news agency. "I've been speaking to [NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg] on a regular basis, so I knew what their situation was.

"Everything is interlinked, so all those things can impact on us.

"In all the scenario planning we've done, which has been plentiful, what's happening on the other side of the world has been taken into consideration."

Rimmer effectively ruled out a series against other nationalities replacing the first Kangaroos tour since 2003.

"I don't think that would be feasible, because whatever restrictions apply to the Australians would similarly apply to most of the other teams willing to tour, because many of those players would be enshrined within the NRL and UK competitions," he said.

"At the moment, we're aiming towards the Ashes. It's hugely important to us and it's there as an hors d'oeuvre to the World Cup in 2021.

"But nevertheless, there are forces at work that are far greater at this moment in time.

"The game is under stress, the world is under stress and we all have to acknowledge that times are changing, and we have to give, where necessary, in order to make things work.

"I don't exactly know which one of the permutations it will be at the end of the year - it will be dependent on several other factors."

The RFL decision, in conjunction with Super League, to postpone all fixtures at least until April 3 is putting added stress on clubs' finances and Rimmer admits the possibility of some part-time outfits going to the wall cannot be ruled out.

"It's not impossible," he said. "This is a new set of stresses that nobody has faced before so we're not being naive.

"We have redressed the position in the operational rules on insolvency laws that would normally apply.

"We have built-in some flexibility on that - we did that with the board last week - so we're ready to react, if that were to be the case. Hopefully, it won't be, the government support will be very helpful in all that."

Rimmer says he will update Super League clubs on the latest situation via a conference call on Tuesday.