NRL, union to talk isolation penalties

Scott Bailey and Pamela Whaley
Newcastle are second on the ladder after two rounds as the NRL season's fate hangs in the balance

Proposed breach notices for individuals who disobey self-isolation rules will be high on the agenda on Monday when the NRL and players' union talk again.

The coronavirus pandemic again overshadowed the league on Sunday, with serious question marks over whether the NRL will be able to play on.

The NRL and Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) are working on finalising a self-isolation policy if the game does go on, with measures being reviewed this weekend by players.

However, it's understood the union did not expect the potential of breach notices to form part of the rules, under which players might be penalised for not staying home outside of training and games.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys on Sunday promised any player who put the game at risk could find themselves in hot water.

"It's a major decision for them to act recklessly," V'landys told Triple M.

"We'll be introducing penalties - no doubt about that. That's the second part of the process.

"Let's get the protocols in first and the buy-in from the players ... The second part of that is to consult the clubs and players on how we penalise anyone who acts recklessly.

"We won't penalise someone who has just made an innocent error.

"But someone in a nightclub at 3:00am who has put all his teammates, his family and the game at risk, that could range for a lot of things ... It won't be soft."

The notion of breach notices apparently was raised early last week in meetings, but the union did not believe it was one of the points up for review over the weekend in setting up the guidelines.

It might still be met with some resistance from the RLPA, which is keen to balance the protection of their players and the game itself.

Players on the weekend were still unsure what they could or couldn't do, and were told to take a common-sense approach to the proposed isolation policy.

But both sides have regularly claimed in the past week that the game had never been more unified on an issue over the need to keep the sport going and families healthy.

"Self-isolation is more looking after yourself a bit better," Wests Tigers veteran Benji Marshall said.

"Although it might seem like, as players, the virus doesn't affect us as much, it worries me more if you pass that onto someone else.

"We've been given a lot of guidelines to follow and we'll do our best to try and do that."

Meanwhile, on the field, the NRL was already in foreign territory.

The Sydney Roosters are winless after two rounds, after going down 9-8 to Manly and suffering the worst start to a season in 11 years by a defending premier.

Parramatta are first after flogging the Gold Coast on Sunday 46-6, with fellow perennial battlers Newcastle second on for-and-against after their 42-24 defeat of the Tigers.

Canberra are also unbeaten through the opening two rounds for just the second time since 2006, alongside Melbourne, Brisbane and Penrith.

The Storm's clash with the Panthers is shaping as a highlight of round three, regardless of when it is played.