Broncos-Storm match to go ahead as strict measures places on players, staff
At least one Round 4 match remains in jeopardy as the NRL increases the restrictions on players and staff amid Queensland’s COVID spread.
Michael Carayannis and Nick Smart
March 30, 2021 - 10:04PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
NRL: Following a COVID outbreak in Queensland, the Brisbane Broncos have been forced to charter a private flight to Sydney in order to avoid lockdown.
This is the email rugby league players and staff have been dreading — a return to bubble life.
The NRL’s general manager of elite competitions Jason King wrote to the 16 club bosses just before 10am on Tuesday to deliver the news.
That means players must wear masks whenever they are indoors in public, a ban on public transport, temperature checking before each training session and the buffet is no more.
Using ride-shares should also only occur as a last resort.
The NRL is also sweating on a clearance from the Victorian government to allow Friday’s match between the Broncos and Melbourne to go ahead.
The level two Project Apollo Protocols were put in place as a safety measure following an outbreak in Brisbane in recent days.
The next step is a return to a full-on bubble which would mirror the situation players found themselves for the majority of last season.
Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs has his temperature checked.
“Although the immediate COVID issue is localised in Brisbane the nature of our competition means that it is necessary to move all Clubs and matches to enhanced protocols,” King wrote to club bosses.
“We appreciate this will cause some inconvenience for our clubs, personnel, partners and families but the measures are important to ensure we are able to deliver the premiership with minimal disruption.”
Clubs were already under level one protocols although they were largely in-step with community standards.
The Bulldogs are under strict measures having played the Broncos last Saturday.
Canterbury players are unable to leave their house unless it is to go to training or to go shopping for essential items. They are banned from eating at restaurants.
They will be under the harsher protocols until Thursday where staff and players will be COVID tested to ensure ahead of their match against South Sydney on Friday.
Bulldogs boss Aaron Warburton confirmed the strict measures.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the Warriors NRL team as part of the COVID bubble training at Impact Gym in Erina on the Central Coast.
“It’s not affecting the lead-up to Friday for us,” Warburton said.
“It’s business as normal. We will just adhere to the NSW health guideline and nothing has changed for us.”
It is understood the Victorian Government will allow the Brisbane Broncos to enter the state, meaning their marquee fixture will go ahead on Friday night as scheduled.
The Broncos flew to Sydney on Monday and will be based there for at least the next fortnight after the Queensland capital was declared a COVID hotspot.
All Brisbane players and staff that have travelled have since returned negative tests.
The Broncos are set to be granted Victorian travel exemptions, ensuring the match will go ahead.
Although, they will fly south on a private plane and follow strict COVID protocols while in Victoria.
It had been speculated the clash could be moved to Sydney, which would have robbed Storm of a precious home game and its fans of seeing them play live after not being able to last year.
The official green light is set to be given on Wednesday.
The Broncos have relocated to Sydney and will be able to travel on to Victoria.
The Broncos relocated to Sydney on Monday.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo said the game would make changes as necessary.
“We have activated the scenario planning we had in place should there be an outbreak,” Abdo said.
“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.”
The Sharks are in discussions with the NRL regarding the prospect of flying on a charter flight on game day for their match against the Cowboys on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday. As it stands the Sharks are booked to leave on Thursday.
The Titans and Raiders game remains in a precarious place. Gold Coast have been told they may also be forced to relocate.