NRL players face strict testing to play in ‘clean zones’
Players will need to pass an assessment from an NRL screener to play on game days as the governing body finalises its match day operations.
The NRL will enforce strict biosecurity protocols at matches but have allowances to ensure games are played even if a flu sweeps through a club. Just like it has been at training, any player who attends matches with flu-like symptoms or has a temperature will be ruled out and quarantined.
There are protocols in place to ensure players do not enter the facility if they are feeling unwell but if they do or start feeling unwell on their way to the game, the NRL will ensure games go ahead.
Grounds will be divided into "clean" and "dirty" zones with the clean zones heavily policed, just like it has been for players since their return to training this month. If a player or players are ruled out of games because of any flu-related illness the club will be free to replace them with permission from the NRL.
Clubs will have a squad of 20 players at each game, giving them three to choose from should drama strike. Twenty one players will still be named each Tuesday before that number is cut by two, 24 hours before kick-off. The final team will be announced an hour before kick-off.
The NRL will run through clubs of its game day operations during a phone hook-up on Monday afternoon. Each of the six venues in use will have specific operational matters with clubs to discuss their match day protocols, game day staff, travel and flights, catering and media commitments.
Only 20 players and 12 staff members - including coaches - are permitted from each club and must come from their pre-registered 50 person list. The 32 people from each club are the only ones allowed in the clean zone along with the match officials, small amount of essential broadcast workers and game day officials. The dirty zone is for journalists, broadcast partners, cleaners and caterers.
Anyone who enters the green zone will be screened by two NRL officials before they can enter.
Most club bosses are not part of the pre-approved 50-person list and were unaware if they could attend matches.
Meanwhile, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said he was "very grateful" the referee's had dropped their dispute with the governing body. Annesley and chairman Peter V'landys would have been among the high profile witnesses had the case gone ahead as scheduled at the Fair Work Commission this weekend.
"It was the referee's themselves who ended the dispute," Annesley said. "They didn't want to be the focus on the days leading up the kick-off. They wanted to focus on getting ready for the start of the competition Peter did a great job talking to them over the course of Friday.
"They've been working every day while the dispute has been going on. They've been working through the new rules and changes."
Originally published as NRL players face strict testing to play in 'clean zones'