NRL clubs are preparing to effectively lock down their top 30 squads and development players as the suspension of second-tier competitions, grassroots footy and junior representative games is confirmed.
The QRL decided on Tuesday night to suspend all statewide competitions and community rugby league and the NSWRL followed suit on Wednesday.
The NRL released a statement on Wednesday confirming that all community rugby leagur had been postponed in Australia until at least the first weekend of May.
The postponement includes all junior and senior community club rugby league competitions, training, gala days and future League Stars programs.
NRL Head of Football – Participation, Pathways and Game Development, Luke Ellis said the decision to suspend community club rugby league immediately was made after consultation with the State governing bodies to assist in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
NRL clubs have also been advised to keep their squads in-house to minimise the chance of players catching coronavirus and enable the Telstra Premiership to continue.
NRL officials met with Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday, with the prospect of players self-isolating at home when not at training or playing raised later in the day during a phone hook-up with club CEOs.
Teams are already taking measures to avoid players encountering anyone they don't need to across the game, with media sessions being conducted remotely, training sessions closed off from the public and staff deemed 'non-essential' advised to work from home.
At the Rabbitohs as well for example, players have already been told to avoid dining out at restaurants and cafes, while fans are no longer able to access their Redfern Oval training base when sessions are on.
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With each club having a top 30 and three-to-six development players, they should be able to overcome any injury setbacks without needing to draw on outside players.
If a player is diagnosed with COVID-19 he could be removed from the squad and once team-mates are cleared they could continue playing with minimal disruption to the competition.
By implementing self-isolation protocols the chances of a player also unknowingly spreading the virus could also be reduced.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said on Monday that a positive test from a player would not necessarily mean the season would be suspended.
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Greenberg said a positive test from a player or official would effectively force their club, and most likely any opposing teams they had recently played, into quarantine.
However, other clubs could continue playing if it could be satisfied that they were properly isolated from the virus.