Tonight’s NRL blockbuster between Penrith and Melbourne won’t go ahead after the Queensland Government declared professional sport can’t proceed this weekend – even without crowds.
In a statement, the NRL confirmed all three matches scheduled for today were off.
“The National Rugby League (NRL) has postponed all of today’s Round 20 NRL Telstra Premiership matches,” the statement said.
“The NRL respects the decision of the Queensland Government to keep the community safe and healthy following local transmission of COVID-19 in southeast Queensland.
“The NRL is continuing discussions with the Queensland Government to possibly play matches tomorrow.
“All players will remain on Level 4 Biosecurity Protocols and comply with all Queensland Public Health orders to keep the local community safe.”
11 Local Government Areas in Queensland were thrown into a snap lockdown today after seven new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were revealed.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said an immediate lockdown was the best way to proceed.
“We have seen from the experience in other states that the only way to beat the Delta strain is to move quickly, to be fast and to be strong,” he said.
“This will be the strictest lockdown that we have had.”
The areas under harsh lockdown rules are Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Noosa Shire, Redland City, Scenic Rim, Somerset and Sunshine Coast regions.
The earliest the lockdown will end is Tuesday night.
The NRL scrambled to find a way for games to proceed today but it was a step too far under the circumstances.
The NRL would be deeply concerned about a lockdown extension and next weekend’s games. All eight Round 22 matches are scheduled to be played within the locked down areas, including next Saturday’s Panthers v Roosters game.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said he was told around 10am this morning that tonight’s game was in doubt.
“It’s pretty crazy times… but we’ll make it work,” he told Fox League.
Cleary confirmed at one stage it was possible the team would fly to Townsville, but they remain in Brisbane.
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.