The NRL is taking a range of precautionary messages in response to NSW’s latest COVID-19 drama, with players back under restrictions similar to those they faced in 2020.
Crowds will not be impacted at matches this weekend despite NSW introducing a raft of temporary restrictions while health authorities work to ensure there has been no additional spread from two community transmission cases detected this week.
However, lower grade matches scheduled for Panthers Stadium tomorrow night have been moved from the venue. First grade will not be impacted and Penrith’s match against Cronulla will kick-off at 6pm.
Attendees will be encouraged to wear masks, particularly when not in their seat, but it is not mandatory. Corporate guests will need to wear masks while not seated.
The NRL will implement Level 3 Biosecurity Protocols from midday tomorrow for players and officials.
All Sydney based clubs as well as the Melbourne Storm, who are currently in Sydney, must comply with the strengthened biosecurity arrangements. The Gold Coast Titans will also comply with the protocols when in Sydney on Saturday.
Players, football staff and officials impacted must remain at home unless training, exercising or shopping for essential needs. Purchasing takeaway food will also be permitted. Temperature testing will take place at matches and players and officials must provide a daily report of their whereabouts.
The NRL anticipates the increased protocols will be a short-term measure to protect the competition.
No players or officials are currently impacted by the NSW Health advice.
NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the game would take no risks in ensuring the Premiership and next week’s Magic Round would proceed without impact.
“These are strong measures to ensure our players remain healthy and the competition can proceed without interruption. We are hopeful Level 3 restrictions will only be implemented for a short time, but it is important to take this step as a safeguard measure, particularly with all clubs travelling to Brisbane next week,” he said.
“The restrictions we have put in place also reduces the risk of a player attending a venue which may lead them to being identified as a close or casual contact.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.