ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys has revealed the strict measures NRL players face in order to protect the game from stopping as the virus pandemic worsens.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys has revealed the strict measures NRL players face in order to protect the game from stopping as the virus pandemic worsens.

NRL players warned: self-isolate or be locked down

Self-isolate or be locked down in a facility - they are the drastic but necessary measures players are being asked to take to ensure the NRL isn't suspended in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys told The Daily Telegraph the isolation protocols were recommended by the biosecurity expert commissioned to help the NRL navigate through the global pandemic.

"That's one serious option the Commission has to look at on Thursday, is a lockdown.

"There are two options. One, self isolation where the player self isolates and minimises social activity or secondly a special area provided by the club that will accommodate the players," V'Landys said.

"That will actually minimise the exposure for that player in contracting the virus. The irony is if they continue to play they actually have less risk of catching the disease if they were going about their normal social activity."

Todd Greenberg says Round 2 of the NRL will go ahead at this stage. Picture: AAP.
Todd Greenberg says Round 2 of the NRL will go ahead at this stage. Picture: AAP.

The recommendations from the biosecurity expert were communicated to CEOs via the nightly phone hook-up that has been taking place since the crisis escalated.

One of the options presented was the self-isolation measure. It means players would only be able to travel from their home to training and back again. Under this measure, players are also expected to drastically reduce contact with others.

The Melbourne Storm have been leading the way in trying to reduce the risk from the virus. Melbourne's general manager of football Frank Ponissi said his players were already following similar advice from medical staff.

"Our club doctor has been phenomenal in being proactive, last Wednesday he addressed the players when they got back from their break when the issue started to escalate," Ponissi said.

"They had a long meeting to go through it all, the whole club has been proactive. The doctor advised to steer clear of cafes and restaurants, instead of dining in to grab a takeaway or go to places where they can be served without having to go inside."

 

 

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Peter V'landys and Todd Greenber say every outcome is being considered to keep the season going. Picture: AAP.
Peter V'landys and Todd Greenber say every outcome is being considered to keep the season going. Picture: AAP.

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South Sydney have also recently asked players to keep away from public places like cafes and restaurants.

The other more radical option is a self-imposed lockdown, meaning players would be housed in a facility until the virus crisis is contained.

Most clubs have access to state-of-the-art performance centres that have living amenities like fully equipped kitchens, dining rooms and shower facilities but do not necessarily have the ability to house players if they were to be completely locked down.

Greenberg and V'Landys also met with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and the NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, to get clarification around the testing procedures for coronavirus.

The latest meeting between the game's bosses and government officials comes as Greenberg reaffirmed round two would take place, kicking off on Thursday night when Canterbury play North Queensland at a largely empty ANZ Stadium after gatherings of more than 500 people were banned to help prevent the spread of the virus.

While player health and safety will always be paramount to the game's top administrators, the financial fallout of a suspended competition has serious ramifications with clubs facing the threat of folding.

On Tuesday, Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart backed the NRL's plan to charter flights for teams to fly home immediately after games as a measure to limit players' exposure to coronavirus.

 

Warriors players are in rugby league limbo right now – stuck in Australia with their season up in the air. Picture: AAP
Warriors players are in rugby league limbo right now – stuck in Australia with their season up in the air. Picture: AAP

"I think it's very smart of the NRL to have charter planes fly teams to and from games in the one day - it's helping to keep the players' health and welfare at hopefully a safe situation. A chartered aeroplane is going to be a lot better than sitting in an airport for 10 or 12 hours," Stuart said.

The 2019 grand finalists also announced their round 6 game against Newcastle Knights on April 18 in Wagga Wagga will be played in Canberra to ease the logistic requirement of playing a match in the bush under coronavirus protocols.


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