(Reuters) – Twelve National Rugby League (NRL) clubs will relocate to three Queensland hubs on Wednesday for at least one month to ensure the competition continues, the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) announced on Sunday.
Nine teams from Sydney along with Canberra Raiders, Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors will all move to southeast Queensland amidst concerns about the number of COVID-19 cases in Sydney.
The remaining NRL teams — three from Queensland and the Melbourne Storm — will continue to be based in their home cities. The plans are awaiting final approval from the Queensland government.
Each team’s bubble will include a combined 41 players and staff, with family members also able to join after 14 days of quarantine on arrival in Queensland.
Players will remain under the same bio-security restrictions enforced by the NRL last month, limiting their movements to games, training and essential household tasks for at least two weeks.
“The Commission has conducted an extensive risk assessment and it is clear from the current data trends that the risk to the competition is too great to continue playing in NSW right now,” ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said in a statement.
“These are very difficult decisions… We will not keep players in Queensland any longer than they need to be. We hope it is only for a month, but if it needs to be longer, it will be. We’re doing this to protect their livelihoods.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)