NRL double-headers likely as part of hubs

·3-min read

The NRL is eyeing off double and triple-headers as it navigates the logistical nightmare of moving the vast majority of the competition to Queensland.

Plans for shifting 12 clubs from NSW and ACT for at least a month were being finalised on Monday, with league bosses realistic that the rest of the season could be played out in the hub.

Clubs were also feeling the pinch, with key support staff missing out with just 11 spots in most bubbles for non-players after having almost double as many last year.

But the biggest challenge for the NRL remains organising the 500 bubble inhabitants.

Penrith, Manly, Newcastle and Sydney Roosters are bound for Sunshine Coast, Canterbury, Canberra, South Sydney, Parramatta and the Warriors will be on the Gold Coast while Cronulla, St George Illawarra and Wests Tigers are Brisbane based.

Players and staff will remain in quarantine in those hubs for two weeks while training and playing, with extra freedoms likely to follow.

Families are also expected to fly up within the week and join players after their own quarantine period.

The NRL also remains hopeful there will be crowds at all games during that period, as negotiations continue with the Queensland Government.

"We're going to put a proposal to the Queensland Government on a way for us to safely secure the players and the environment," NRL boss Andrew Abdo said.

"We are very experienced around clean and dirty zones and different levels of protocols. So there is a possibility of us moving to crowds very quickly.

"After around about a two-week period, we will then start looking at opportunities to play double headers and triple headers."

The NRL must also negotiate to have Origin players rejoin their club bubbles after Wednesday, but is confident it will be able to do so.

The implications of the shift were felt far and wide, with Canberra officials still in shock they had been moved despite no cases in the ACT for 367 days.

It's believed Victoria closing their border to the ACT forced the move, but Canberra officials are still hopeful players could travel between ACT and Queensland.

New Zealand fans were again hit, with the Warriors calling off their long-awaited homecoming against Canterbury in round 22.

A first grand final in Brisbane is also not out of the question, with Abdo unwilling to put a number on what would allow a return to Sydney after 112 COVID-19 cases were on Monday.

"We're committing for a four-week period. Will it be longer than that? It's possible," Abdo said.

"It is somewhat linked to obviously the infection rate, it's also linked to restrictions.

"And it's also linked to exemptions that we might be able to obtain from other state governments too.

"We also need to consider the opportunity cost of not being able to have crowds or potential disruption."

What will change is how clubs operate off the field.

Some will have to share doctors and even analysts or sports scientists, with 30 of the 41 spots in most club's bubbles to be taken up by players.

Most clubs have a head coach, three assistants, two physios, a football manager, gear steward as well as strength and conditioning coaches and on-field trainers with the required qualifications.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting