Dragons star Jess Sergis has detailed the life and employment changing impact that COVID-19 biosecurity protocols have had ahead of the NRLW season.
The 2019 Golden Boot winner, voted the best representative player in the world last season, was forced to move out of the Wollongong home she shares with partner, and Dragons NRL player, Zac Lomax in May.
Sergis and the Dragons will open an NRLW season like no other when they take on the Roosters at 11.30am on Saturday at GIO Stadium.
That match will be followed by the Broncos v Warriors clash at 3pm. Both matches will be played prior to the men's elimination final between Canberra and Cronulla.
Sergis, a childcare worker, was considered in the "high risk" category by the NRL ahead of the resumption of the men's competition as Lomax committed to bubble requirements.
The 23-year-old moved back to Sydney with her parents and has since quit her job for the duration of the NRLW and State of Origin in November as protocols remain in place.
"It's been big for me but I also didn't realise how much I missed being back home so I'm trying to take that positive out of it," Sergis told NRL.com.
"We weren't allowed to be in the same household and that's been really difficult for the both of us, it's been nearly five months where we haven't really been able to see each other.
"I think some girls are starting to be impacted and are struggling that we're in these bubbles with their families – partners, brothers and sisters – are all included in it too.
"There are so many protocols the girls have to adhere by, and the coaching staff as well. People have had to quit their jobs, put other people off work or do what they can to be available.
"Every girl is in the same situation where they have to monitor their family member's moves, whereas the boys, their partners can do all that. It's a lot easier for them to manage."
To make matters more difficult, the Dragons have been unable to train as a full squad ahead of the competition starting on October 3 after delays with several players receiving screening approvals.
Last year's runners-up have been doing enough to get by with those who have received the green light with the hope remaining squad members can join the women's bubble this week.
"It certainly hasn't been normal but we adjust to how many players we've got," Sergis said.
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"We're working on skills – passing, kicking and if we have to we'll throw a staff member in to make up the numbers.
"A lot of us have still been playing footy at club level so are match-ready.
"It's more about finding that quick freshen up around about how to bond and play as a team."
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Sergis will remain a vital key to the side's premiership chances after a stellar 2019 season that included the Dally M medal for female player of the year.
"Last year was mind-blowing, I had a goal to just stay injury-free and play consistent football, I didn't think it would pan out the way it did," she said.
"I just want the same thing this season, to play consistent football."