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NRL Considering Regional Hub Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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ith New South Wales (NSW) recording 44 new COVID-19 cases in one day, including directions for 14,000 people to self-isolate after visiting exposure sites, the state has increased the restrictions for Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong, and Shellharbour.

NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said people in those areas are only permitted to leave their homes if they absolutely have to.

“We do not have the option of living with this,” Berejiklian said.

“We have to quash the community transmission.

“Because if we don’t, we will see thousands and thousands of people in hospital, and lots of people, thousands of people, potentially, dying,” she said.

Following the announcement, The Daily Telegraph reported Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chair, Peter V’landys declared if the current COVID-19 crisis worsened, all clubs may be force into a regional area of NSW, Queensland, or Victoria.

“That is one of the scenarios we have ready, absolutely,” V’landys said.

“At the moment we are doing our utmost to make it the least inconvenience for the players and their families.

“However, if it gets any worse we may have to look at relocations.

“For the competition to continue we may have no option.

“And we have already planned for that contingency.

“We always work on the data, and if we ever thought the data was going to get worse we have contingencies in place,” he said.

This latest discussion comes after the NRL has been plagued with recent COVID-19 biosecurity protocol breaches from a number of players in recent weeks.

Speaking on the thoughts of NRL players on the actions of those breaching the protocols, V’landys said the majority of players are “very angry” about the actions.

“I think the positive out of this is the other players, they are very angry at the actions of the minority,” V’landys said.

“Not only does it tarnish their image, they’re doing the right thing, their livelihoods are at stake, and the livelihoods of a lot of other people that depend on rugby league being played, and the fans who use it as an escapism.

“You can’t judge 500 players on what a handful have done, the majority have got the message, they are conscientious and professional enough to do the right thing.

“It’s just a shame sometimes they lack judgement and do some silly and stupid things,” he said.

V’landys also mentioned the risk the actions of the players in breaking the strict biosecurity rules has on the NRL’s relationship with government authorities,

“There was a myriad of emotions, disappointment, dejection,” V’landys said.

“I don’t think everyone realises how hard we work behind the scenes to keep the game going, we have to do deals with governments, we have to look at every instance that occurs.

“The Apollo team and our biosecurity management, they meet every day, there’s always been close contacts, there’s always been testing required, there’s a lot of work that goes on to ensure the competition can proceed.

“The negotiations with government are very important, our image with government is very important.

“You can only be dejected and disillusioned because they’re affecting the livelihoods of a lot of people,” he said.