Restrictions have again been placed on NRL players and officials as a Good Friday double-header at Stadium Australia was booked in as the official back-up if Brisbane can’t travel to Melbourne.
All players were on Tuesday ordered into level-two protocols, which includes using masks indoors when they cannot socially distance and temperature checks at grounds and training.
Public transport is off limits again, while players and key staff have been told they should only catch taxis or ride-share services when there is no alternative.
But while those restrictions are minor, the NRL has bigger challenges on its hands after the Brisbane outbreak.
The @NRL_Bulldogs have entered a bubble and will undergo COVID-19 testing before their match this week.
— NRL (@NRL) March 30, 2021
They remain in negotiations with the Victoria government to get the Broncos into Melbourne for Friday’s clash, hoping Monday’s mercy dash out of Brisbane may save them.
Those talks look positive, but if the exemptions do fall through the league confirmed on Tuesday the back-up was to play the match at Stadium Australia after the Canterbury-South Sydney game.
“We are confident Friday night’s game at AAMI Park will proceed however if the circumstances change then the game will be relocated to Sydney,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
Any move would be a massive blow for Storm, after it did not play any games in front of fans at their home stadium in 2020.
But if it was the case, prop Christian Welch conceded the team was comfortable hosting Brisbane in Sydney given its success on the road last year.
“I don’t think anyone has any dramas in adapting to a change in plans; it can happen pretty quick, but that’s just the COVID world we live in,” he said.
“We understand that at the end of the day we’re a game of rugby league and there’s higher priorities in the community, like health and safety of people.
“Our preference certainly is to play at AAMI Park in front of all of our home fans.”
Meanwhile, Brisbane’s growing coronavirus cases forced other ramifications across the NRL on Tuesday.
Canterbury players and officials have been placed into a bubble and are on stay-at-home orders, only able to leave their house to train and play after being in Brisbane last weekend.
Cronulla is still planning on playing its clash with North Queensland on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, but all community activities are likely to be cancelled.
The Sharks’ Thursday flight may be pushed back to game day if required before being flown back that night.
The Cowboys are also aiming to take a chartered flight to and from North Queensland to avoid going via Brisbane.