NRL brings back bubble as it considers moving entire competition to Queensland amid COVID-19 crisis
The NRL is considering relocating the entire competition to Queensland as COVID-19 restrictions threaten to bring the season to a halt for a second time.
NRL powerbrokers have been working on contingency plans the past 48 hours, which include moving all 16 teams to Queensland in the coming weeks – a bubble plan which has been discussed in detail in the past.
For now, all non-Queensland based players will be forced to go back to the original biosecurity bubble measures, which prohibited them from leaving their homes unless going to training and games, for the next two weeks.
Clubs will be informed of the NRL’s plans in a phone hook-up at 3pm on Tuesday. It comes as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared Liverpool and Campbelltown in Sydney’s south-west as COVID-19 hotspots, areas in which dozens of NRL players reside.
“I have written to the Queensland Premier today,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said.
“We believe that bringing in harsh and strict biosecurity measures now will ensure that there’ll be no risk going to and from Queensland, especially when we fly in and fly out.
“Moving the whole competition is a worst-case scenario, which we don’t believe will happen. It would be easier bringing four Queensland-based teams to NSW then taking the rest to Queensland. Look, it’s an option, there’s no doubt about that, but we’re not making any rash decisions. We will be patient and see how this pans out.”
The NRL will have 10 rounds to play in the regular season, plus four weeks of finals, after this weekend’s games. The only game in Queensland this weekend is between two teams based in the state, with the relocated Melbourne Storm to take on the Gold Coast Titans on the Sunshine Coast.
Channel Nine commentator Phil Gould, who is one of V’landys’ closest confidantes, discussed the possibility of a competition relocation on the 100% Footy program on Monday night.
“What I do know is the NRL is prepared,” Gould said.
“This will not exclude moving all teams to Brisbane to a safe environment to continue the competition if they have to. They’re ready and loaded.
“They are ready to go, if in fact the borders shut again and we’re in lockdown again, Peter V’landys will pick up the teams and move them to Queensland or anywhere else he has to do to keep the competition going. He will do everything and anything he can to play. They’ve got it prepared. They’re ready. Planes are at the ready.”
The Melbourne Storm are based in the Sunshine Coast, after being forced to relocate more than a week ago as the COVID-19 situation escalated in Victoria.
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