NRL COVID-19 Moves: Queensland To Host Season And Origin
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he NRL has announced all NSW and ACT based clubs will relocate to Queensland for one month due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Greater Sydney.
The announcement follows the recent decision for the Gold Coast to host State of Origin Game III after Newcastle was announced as the host of the game just last week.
As part of the relocation to Queensland, all NSW and ACT clubs will play home games out of either Suncorp Stadium, Cbus Stadium, or Sunshine Coast Stadium for one month, with all Queensland clubs and the Melbourne Storm to continue to play home games as usual at their venues.
Every club is set to travel on charter flights to Queensland and will be permitted a maximum of 41 players and staff in Queensland to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread among the local community.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, Peter V’landys, said: “The Commission has conducted an extensive risk assessment and it is clear from the current data trends that the risk to the competition is too great to continue playing in NSW right now.”
“We are seeing close and casual contacts with links to our game on an almost daily basis.
“Queensland presents much lower risk.
“The Commission is doing everything we can to keep the competition going.
“By keeping the competition going we keep people employed and ensure the players continue to be paid at their current rate.
“Rugby league is also an escapism for people during difficult times and it’s important we do everything we can so our fans can continue to watch rugby league every week especially whilst in lockdown…
“These are very difficult decisions.
“I feel for the players who have to leave their homes for a period.
“We will not keep players in Queensland any longer than they need to be.
“We hope it is only for a month, but if it needs to be longer, it will be.
“We’re doing this to protect their livelihoods.
“This will also have a commercial impact on clubs.
“I have assured all clubs that the NRL will ensure they remain financially strong during this period.
“The NRL has found extensive efficiencies and commercial revenue over the last year which ensured the game is financially stronger than it otherwise would have been.
“I want to thank the Queensland Government.
“I personally have a huge debt of gratitude to the Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for her support of our game,” V’landys said.
Meanwhile, the move of Origin Game III to the Gold Coast comes as the NSW Government informed the NRL it would not allow a major event with a crowd to be held at Newcastle.
The move means the Gold Coast will host a capacity crowd of over 27,000 as Queensland will have played host to all three games of the State of Origin series this year.
NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo, said the NRL had to respect the NSW Government’s decision, despite the desire to host the game in Newcastle for the first time.
“We are disappointed not to be able to give Newcastle the city’s first State of Origin, but we must operate within all state public health orders and not having a crowd in Newcastle negates the opportunity for our fans from the region,” Abdo said.
“The Gold Coast has a very low infection rate and both Origin camps are currently located within driving distance of Cbus Stadium.
“It means neither team will be disadvantaged by travel.
“This is an exciting outcome for the Gold Coast.
“It will be the first time in history that the Gold Coast has hosted State of Origin.
“The Gold Coast is an important market for us and in the current circumstances presents a safe outcome for the community and a great outcome for our fans in southeast Queensland.
“It does mean all three games are played in Queensland, but our priority is ensuring the safety of the community and the continuity of the competition.
“I want to thank the Queensland Government for yet again providing their support [for] rugby league.
“I’d also like to thank Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate for his strong advocacy for Ampol State of Origin to come to Cbus Stadium and the support of Destination Gold Coast,” he said.