NRL send players back into bubbles

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said some NRL teams will revert to strict biosecurity bubble measures.
ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said some NRL teams will revert to strict biosecurity bubble measures.

The NRL has forced players from NSW and the ACT back into strict biosecurity bubbles for the next fortnight to avoid relocating teams to bypass border restrictions.

After an emergency meeting of the ARLC in Sydney on Tuesday, the NRL announced players outside of Queensland are no longer allowed at cafes, restaurants or pubs, and restrictions on home visitors will resume.

Queensland-based clubs will be unaffected, and the NRL is waiting for confirmation their current travel exemption will be upheld.

"We received an exemption from the Queensland government to get up and running when the infection rate was significantly higher, and what we've done by reverting to the original protocols is again reinforce the importance of that protection," said NRL interim CEO Andrew Abdo.

"We're confident we'll continue to receive that exemption."

The NRL met with biosecurity experts on Tuesday morning after the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and the announcement of travel restrictions into Queensland from NSW hotspots.

The Queensland government declared anyone who resides in or has visited the Campbelltown or Liverpool areas in south-west Sydney in the past fortnight will not be allowed into the state.

Queenslanders who are returning after visiting the COVID-19 hotspots in Sydney will need to undergo hotel quarantine at their own expense.

For now, at least, relocating the entire competition to Queensland or NSW is not being seriously considered.

"I would say in our contingency planning that anything is possible, we need to be able to be really dynamic and agile, but that wouldn't be really high up on our list of potential mitigations for this," Abdo said.

"It's much easier for us if you think about it logically, to rather protect the players at the clubs where they are at the moment, minimise contact with others.

"If we do need to relocate and we have restrictions around border controls, we'd rather think about how we might move four Queensland-based teams into NSW, because that's far more practical.

"At this point in time, we're hopeful we don't need to get there."

No games have been played at Campbelltown Stadium in the past 14 days, however, numerous NRL players reside in the area.

In round 10 there is only one game scheduled in Queensland, with Melbourne and Gold Coast to play on Friday night.

However, it will not be affected as both teams are already based in that state.

A Wests Tigers match against the Warriors scheduled to be played at Campbelltown Stadium on July 31 could be moved, although a decision on that is expected in the coming days.

The latest developments come after a cluster of 28 cases of the virus have been linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, while three NRL players were put into 'COVID-hold' away from their teams on Monday.

Australian Associated Press