The NRL's plan to use cardboard cut-outs of fans to fill empty stadiums this season has been derailed trying to clear the first hurdle after some hilarious pranks snuck onto live TV.

The NRL's Fan in the Stand promotion was supposed to give diehard fans a chance to support their teams from the comfort of their own homes — but ended up giving fans a perfect opportunity to make a mockery out of the game.

Friday night's blockbuster between rivals South Sydney and the Roosters at Bankwest Stadium was the first time cardboard cut outs have appeared in the NRL this season and some crafty fans out-smarted NRL officials right from the outset.

Channel 9's live coverage of the match even featured commentators Phil Gould and Ray Warren having a giggle at the sight of a cut-out of a fan's dog sitting in the stands.


Gould was heard trying to speculate about the breed of the snowy-coated pooch — which was revealed by the dog's owner on Twitter to be a Japanese Spitz.

The dog was just the tip of the iceberg as other fans also jumped on board to send in hilarious fake photos pretending to be their cardboard cut-out representation.

Fans on Twitter were sharing a good laugh at stitching up other mates by sending in less than flattering photos of each other before spotting them in the crowd.

One clever fan even organised to have a cardboard cut-out of under-fire British politician Dominic Cummings sitting in the stands, soaking up the atmosphere.

Cummings, Boris Johnson's top advisor, is fighting for his career after he was busted driving from his London home to Durham and back during the coronavirus lockdown.

The sight of him on the live telecast on Friday night gave plenty of fans around the world a good chuckle.

Another proposed initiative called for fans to send in photos of Aussie actor Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith character from iconic action trilogy The Matrix.

Time will tell if the NRL is able to keep its sense of humour when the second round of the competition gets underway next week.


The Fan in the Stands promotion allowed fans to have their likeness portrayed on a 100% recyclable cut-out and placed in their team's current home venue — all for the sum of $22.

NRL head of marketing Peter Jarmain said: "We wanted to make sure the lifeblood of the NRL, our members and fans, had the chance to pull on their jerseys, don their club colours and support in a really fun way," he said, according to

"I know the players and clubs will appreciate the support, even if the fans aren't able to shout, celebrate and jump around for the tries and hits as they usually would."