NRL eyes early return to home grounds

Matt Encarnacion
Crowds at NRL games in NSW will increase significantly from July 1 after an easing of restrictions

The ARL Commission will on Monday discuss the possibility of NRL clubs returning to play at their regular home grounds from the start of July as conditions for crowds continue to ease.

A capped number of crowds in NSW have been given the green light to return to games from July 1 with the state government permitting stadiums to operate at 25 per cent capacity.

It comes just days after the federal government ticked off on crowds of up to 10,000 people in stadiums.

Only stadiums with 40,000 capacity or less have been allowed to open their gates, meaning Sydney's ANZ Stadium remains unavailable.

Social-distancing seating is expected to take place, along with a range of other health protocols the NRL will have to adhere to.

"The health advice was that no matter how well organised an event is, no matter how well it's ticketed and seated and entry and exit points are considered, it would be extremely difficult to manage an event of more than 10,000 people at this time, which is why that limit was applied," said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday.

The NRL is currently using a revised schedule until round nine, which involves the use of three venues in NSW, two in Queensland and one in Victoria.

However Sunday's development has prompted NRL officials to consider allowing teams to return to their traditional homes from round eight which starts on July 2.

"We are looking at that tomorrow," said ARLC chair Peter V'landys, who is still eyeing the possibility of having unlimited crowds by August 1.

"I said July 1 four weeks ago and everyone laughed at me," he told AAP.

"I'm still working on 1st of August for unrestricted crowds as long as infection rate continues at such a low rate.

"As you can see, we've got to be cautious. Even today, with that one test in the school, the ramifications that could have.

"Nevertheless, we'll be doing everything we can to get back to normality."

Melbourne host defending premiers the Sydney Roosters in the opening match of round eight on July 2, however it is unclear if the Victorian government will allow AAMI Park to open their gates crowds by then.

Queensland chief medical officer Jeanette Young is confident the state government will soon allow fans back into their venues.

Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium has a capacity of 52,500.

"I don't know about next weekend but I think it'll be reasonably soon that we should be able to see a return to spectators in our stadiums," Young said.

"That work's happening as we speak."

The New Zealand-based Warriors also remain in Gosford indefinitely due to international travel restrictions.

APPROXIMATE 25 PER CENT CAPACITY OF NRL STADIUMS

* Lottoland: 4500

* Campbelltown Stadium: 5000

* Leichhardt Oval: 5000

* Netstrata Jubilee Oval: 5000

* WIN Stadium: 5000

* Panthers Stadium: 5500

* Cbus Super Stadium: 6500

* GIO Stadium: 6500

* Townsville Stadium: 6500

* AAMI Park 7500

* Bankwest Stadium: 7500

* McDonald Jones Stadium: 8000