'Weight off our shoulders': Queensland border call bursts NRL bubble

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read
NRL players such as Nathan Cleary (pictured left) during training and Queensland after the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured right) during a media conference.
NRL players such as Nathan Cleary (pictured left) are set to be able to enjoy a bubble-free life when travelling to Queensland after the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured right) reopened borders to NSW. (Images: Getty Images)

NRL players are set to be bubble-free this season, with the majority of restrictions that limited their movement in 2020 soon to be lifted.

Queensland's decision to reopen its borders to NSW will bring a huge sigh of relief to players who were forced to exist in strict bubbles last season because of the stringent protocols imposed.

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The latest move also opens the door for the All Stars match to proceed as planned in Townsville next month, following fears players would be forced into a bubble to play.

Players will also not require exemptions to enter Queensland through the season if the border remains open, while a likely situation is expected for Victoria.

It is likely some minor restrictions will be kept in place, but they will be nowhere near as severe as last season where players could only leave the house to train or play.

"It's a bit of a weight off our shoulders," players' union director and Cronulla captain Wade Graham said.

"It's business as normal. We've been able to train as we normally would.

"Things look like they are getting back to normal and fingers crossed we keep going in that positive direction and the season can run without any hiccups."

It comes after clubs were told same-day travel will not be mandatory in 2021, and teams will be able to stay overnight following interstate games.

NRL aware bubble plan could change

The NRL still has a number of contingency plans in place, knowing restrictions could change quickly if cases pop up.

There were also fears fringe players could walk away from the game if the bubble continued, given their inability to play reserve grade in 2020.

This year, however, the state cup competitions will return with plans in place to allow players to go between grades even in the event of another outbreak.

"The hardest thing was just the uncertainty," Graham said.

"We just didn't know where we were headed.

"Rugby league players weren't the only people to suffer of course, it was felt statewide, countrywide and worldwide.

"We're just a small, small fraction of the entire population that dealt with the challenges."

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