The NRL has moved to impose Level 4 restrictions on clubs and players in light of the Sydney Covid outbreak., the governing body confirmed on Monday night.
They are the same restrictions imposed on the entire competition when it emerged from the lockdown last year.
It means players must stay at their home unless training, playing or “completing an essential household task” such as grocery shopping.
Players must also have no visitors to their homes.
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Read on for all the latest updates.
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ABDO’S UPDATE ON Covid CONTINGENCIES
NRL boss Andrew Abdo has provided an update on the NRL season and the rest of the State of Origin series after the latest Sydney COVID-19 outbreak.
“There’s a lot going on and it’s been an incredible couple of days, you think: ‘here we go again’,” Abdo said on Origin Footy on Fox.
“We planned for this, we went through it together last year and we got through it and we will get through it again.
“First, tonight (Origin II at Suncorp), there was a lot of work to get the exemption to play and get the players up there.
“As late as an hour and a half ago we got information from the Queensland government to send an order to everyone going to the game they had to wear masks.
“We had to get 40,000 masks to be available at the stadium just for the game to go ahead with crowds in attendance.”
Abdo’s immediate focus was getting through State of Origin II without a hitch, but he will then quickly enact the contingency plans for the remainder of the series and the NRL season.
“We’ll get through tonight then look at the data over the last few days then will determine if the game gets played in NSW,” Abdo said.
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“The default is Stadium Australia. The game is scheduled for outside of the current lockdown period.
“If the NSW government gets the infection rate coming down then there’s every chance we play at Stadium Australia.
“Option two is we move to a regional area of NSW like Newcastle similar to as we did with Townsville.
“The third option for us is to consider taking the game interstate again. There are a few factors to take into account and most of that is around monitoring the infection rate and working closely with the NSW government.
“We’ve got Round 16 starting on Thursday, the Roosters v Storm game has been relocated to Newcastle with a 50 per cent crowd as it stands.
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“The rest of the games in the lockdown area will be played without crowds and will be played out under our strict protocols like last year.
“That information and communication is going through to the clubs and the players to make sure they adhere to that. We will monitor the situation. We are looking ahead to the next couple of rounds.
“If we need exemptions to travel across the border then we will do and use charter flights accordingly.”
Abdo’s preference would be to keep the final Origin in Sydney due to the number of fans that will miss out on seeing the game if it is moved.
“There are a few variables,” Abdo explained.
“ANZ stadium at 50 per cent capacity has 40,000 fans so even if we were 100 per cent in Newcastle there’d still be more fans able to see the game in ANZ Stadium.
“We need to think about safety, but if it’s more conducive to play in an area like Newcastle but we would consider either a 50 per cent constraint or potentially an unconstrained stadium. “If it’s safer and more conducive to playing the game in Newcastle then we will do.”
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TWO WARRIORS STARS FORCED INTO ISOLATION
The Warriors have been dealt another cruel blow with news two players have been forced into a two-week isolation amid the growing Covid outbreak in Australia.
Channel 7 journalist Michelle Bishop tweeted Euan Aitken and Josh Curran were passengers on a flight from the Gold Coast on which a flight attendant later tested positive for coronavirus.
Every passenger on that flight has been ordered into a mandatory two-week isolation.
It means Aitken and Curran will be unavailable for Friday’s Round 16 clash with the Dragons, but should be available for their Round 17 game the following Sunday.
The Warriors also look like losing young gun fullback Reece Walsh after he injured a hamstring at Queensland training on Saturday.
Luckily, the club has acquired mid-season signings Chad Townsend and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who will be available in Round 16.