Manly's Martin Taupau during the NRL Round 5 Gold Coast Titans v Manly Sea Eagles match at Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone held on April 8, 2018.
Manly's Martin Taupau during the NRL Round 5 Gold Coast Titans v Manly Sea Eagles match at Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone held on April 8, 2018.

Gladstone solution: NRL bid backed by facility, local league

A proposal to host NRL teams in workers' accommodation near Calliope has the backing of the facility's operator and Rugby League Gladstone.  

 Homeground Villages general manager Matt Jones confirmed availability at the 1392 room large scale accommodation. 

 "If the NRL needs our support, we definitely have the infrastructure and capability to help keep the competition going and games being played," he said. 

It's unclear what the national season will look like as more restrictive measures designed to stem the spread of coronavirus come into effect.

Outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people have been ruled out by the Federal Government and round two of the NRL will be played at closed stadiums with no crowds.

Rugby League Gladstone president Richard Duff agreed it would be strange for fans to know their favourite players were in town without having opportunities to interact, but said at least viewers nationwide could watch on television.

"The main objective is we've got something we can supply to the NRL," he said.

NRL.com reported that teams are taking measures to avoid potential exposure to the virus with media sessions conducted remotely and training sessions closed off.

Mr Duff said local grounds, including Marley Brown Oval, were up to standard.

"The grounds are definitely up to scratch, it was lucky we had all that weather not long ago," he said.

The exact details of how the Gladstone proposal would work are yet to be finalised, but mayor Matt Burnett said one option was for Homeground to act as a hub for all teams, support staff and broadcasters.

It could be set up as a controlled zone to prevent potential exposure to coronavirus, and charter flights from Gladstone Airport could ferry players to grounds in cities such as Rockhampton, Townsville and Brisbane.

Marley Brown Oval could host a third of games each round.

Cr Burnett said the combination of a high-level rugby ground, quality training facilities, an airport and secure accommodation was unmatched in Australia.

The village was built to provide accommodation to workers in industries including liquefied natural gas and mining.

Onsite facilities include a gym, swimming pool and tennis and basketball courts.

Former Gold Coast Titans CEO and current NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley with Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett at Marley Brown Oval prior to the Titans and Manly Sea Eagles game on April 8.
Former Gold Coast Titans CEO and current NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley with Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett at Marley Brown Oval prior to the Titans and Manly Sea Eagles game on April 8, 2018.

Cr Burnett said as well as giving the NRL a short to medium term option for the season to go ahead, the move would be a boost to local business owners.

One of the terms of the offer is that goods needed by players and support staff would come from local businesses where possible.

"Here we have an opportunity to save the National Rugby League and support our local businesses," Cr Burnett said.

The NRL has been contacted for comment.