NRL eye contingencies for Storm, Broncos

·3-min read

The venue for Brisbane's Good Friday clash with Melbourne remains under a COVID-19 cloud as the NRL line up several contingencies amid talks with Victoria's government.

Broncos players and staff were rushed out of Brisbane on Monday afternoon, just as the city was set to be plunged into a three-day lockdown.

The Broncos will set up camp in Sydney for at least the next 10 days, with all home games after that still dependent on what happens with the outbreak in the city.

But it is Friday's clash with Melbourne that is the most immediate concern.

Victoria slammed its border shut to parts of south-east Queensland on Monday, after four new cases of community transmission were confirmed.

The NRL is hopeful the mercy dash at 3pm - just two hours before Victoria's border closed - will be enough to save the Broncos requiring an exemption.

However, if it is not the NRL has several options at play to ensure the game goes ahead, including playing the match in Sydney.

One possible back-up is understood to include playing it at Stadium Australia, making for a double-header after South Sydney and Canterbury clash.

"At this stage, the game is in Melbourne, and we will wait and see what develops over the next few days," the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley said.

"We'll do everything we can to keep the competition as scheduled. However, we have to balance that against the continuation of the competition.

"And the commission's overriding priority is to make sure that we can get the competition away that we don't have to suspend games or suspend rounds."

The NRL's challenges extend well beyond the Broncos, given several clubs send players to play Queensland Cup in different parts of the state.

Players from top-30 squads were pulled from Queensland Cup games over the weekend, while some who were in the city were being asked to train away from other players.

"We have been doing mini contact tracing ourselves," Annesley said.

Brisbane players and staff were tested over the weekend with results all negative, and have been in home isolation since.

A decision will then be made on their next home game against Penrith on April 15 once the COVID-19 situation in Brisbane is made clearer.

"The players and staff have taken the changes in their stride," interim Broncos CEO Neil Monaghan said.

"While it's tough on many of our team with young families, they are keen to get on the road and prepare for a great challenge against the Storm."

Meanwhile, the NRL is trying to navigate Saturday's clash between Cronulla and North Queensland on the Sunshine Coast.

That region is not one to be placed in lockdown, with the most likely scenario being that chartered flights are used to avoid having to transit through Brisbane.

Gold Coast is scheduled to host Canberra on Saturday, with the holiday strip not included in the greater Brisbane lockdown.