The NRL is set to do whatever it can to stay on the field despite mounting pressure after the government recommendation against all “non-essential” travel.
In an address to the nation Sunday prime minister Scott Morrison called on Australians to forego all interstate or long-distance travel except for work, essential services or compassionate reasons.
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Morrison said the National Rugby League (NRL), soccer’s A-League and Australian rules’ Australian Football League (AFL) could continue at this stage.
But while the AFL appear to have taken the opportunity to shut it down, the NRL are desperate to keep going.
While the five-nation Super Rugby tournament, involving four Australian teams, has been suspended the NRL, AFL and A-League are continuing to play in closed stadiums. Any outright ban on interstate travel would force those leagues also to suspend play.
“I would say it’s not the end of sport,” Morrison said Sunday. “We will work closely with them about those arrangements.
“In terms of the NRL and the AFL and those types of arrangements I think the principle is important.
“I’m sure we can work with both of those agencies, with their respective states and chief medical officers at a federal level. If there are new arrangements that need to be put in place to protect the health and safety of everyone they may be possible. But I’m not going to pre-empt those outcomes.”
The NRL immediately said that its season would continue.
Speaking on Triple M about the ban, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said the NRL should be able to keep going.
“The Prime Minster said during questioning that it was minor sports, that doesn’t include the NRL or AFL,” he said.
“It should be remembered we’re using private charter flights, we’re not using normal domestic planes, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue to travel even though there’s a ban on non-essential travel on commercial airlines.
ARLC Chairman Peter VlandysSource:Getty Images
“There is a National Cabinet Meeting and if you listen to the rumours, it’s going to be a challenge moving forward, potential lock downs in NSW and Victoria, suburbs being locked down is out there. But as I said on Monday, this changes hourly and a decision we make today may change tomorrow. We’ve prepared for for the worst, we’ve looked at every contingency and we’re ready for whatever they throw at us.
“The longer we can go, the better it is. We are still receiving advice from the health authorities and our biosecurity and pandemic expert. By isolating the players, it outs them in a better position. There’s less risk. I hope we don’t have to suspend the season, it’s imperative we play every game.”
While no NRL player has contracted COVID-19 as yet, with all players being told to get off the dating apps, as well as fines or suspension if players are seen in any bars, pubs or clubs.
LATEST: NRL still working on continuing playing next week. @9NewsSyd @NRLonNine
All the medical advice points to staying home & practising social distancing, states are closing their borders, NSW & VIC are shutting down non-essential services, travel is restricted yet somehow the @NRL is being tipped to march on & there’s no word from the @ALeague – WHY? https://t.co/Sm6hYEwJwh
It seems as though the NRL think they are special and can’t grasp the 14 day rule.
The league has chartered a private aircraft to transport teams around the country and avoid the possibility players may come into contact with the virus on commercial flights.
Most of the league’s 16 teams are based in New South Wales state.
Round two continued this weekend without spectators, the NRL desperate to push ahead and avoid becoming financial crippled.
If a player tests positive for the COVID-19 virus, it would almost certainly instigate postponement of the 2020 NRL premiership.
However, the NRL copped criticism on Friday for blanket testing players – Fairfax reporter Jenny Noyes tweeted, “No NRL player has tested positive yet, so why are players getting blanket fast-tracked testing? There are families in the community with actual symptoms being refused.”
But ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys argued precautionary action is necessary.
"We need players to be tested, and we need quick results so we can keep teams going," V’landys said.
"This is not a handout from the government or an imposition to anyone. It’s a reasonable and safe practice to look after the players and a move to help increase the prospect of everyone staying healthy and being paid.”
— with AAP
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