NRL reveals blueprint for return of footy

The NRL will adopt the strictest of biosecurity measures, including checking the temperature of players every day, in order to return on June 1.

On a mission to achieve clearance from health authorities to resume the competition after suspending it due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NRL are confident they are just two weeks away from being able to declare the season is back on.

The NRL have already told every club that players will receive a minimum four-week pre-season of training, which means that all 16 clubs could be back at work on May 1 - just 26 days away. And it's the harshest of biosecurity regulations that have kept the horse racing industry going which the NRL plan to copy for the footy code's own return to play.

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ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys is also the CEO of Racing NSW, and that gives the NRL a huge advantage in designing a comeback plan focused on making certain the health and safety of the players, coaches and staff is paramount and risk of infection minimal.


Peter V'landys heads up both Racing NSW and the ARLC.
Peter V'landys heads up both Racing NSW and the ARLC.


The racing industry has managed to continue as one of the world's few sports to remain active by temperature-checking everyone that enters the track, segregating jockeys, banning of interstate riders and trainers and putting restrictions on how horses arrive in the state.

So strict are the health guidelines on race day, Australia's champion trainer Chris Waller recently declared he felt visiting his local supermarket was more hazardous than working at the track.

"One thing racing has proved is that you've got to have the harshest possible biosecurity measures in place," V'landys told The Sunday Telegraph. "And to that point, our leading trainer (Chris Waller) said he's safer at the racecourse than he is at the supermarket.

"A jockey also said he went to a hospital and there were 10 times more biosecurity measures at Rosehill racecourse than there was at the hospital."

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V'landys said the absolute key to the NRL gaining the confidence in health authorities to return was the continued downward trend of the COVID-19 spread.

"There is a lot less risk now to the NRL premiership resuming than there was two weeks ago because as a society we have locked down.

"When we were playing (in round one), it was 32.21 per cent ... and now the infection rate is down to 3.96 per cent in NSW.

"Hopefully in eight weeks (by June 1), the spread will be down to one per cent."

V'landys said he is talking every day to the game's innovation committee, led by ARLC commissioner Wayne Pearce, to assess all "available options" to return on June 1, including using Sydney­ ­Olympic Park as a precinct to house players in a "bubble-like" environment.

Originally published as NRL reveals blueprint for return of footy