'Australia needs rugby league': NRL to continue despite threat

The NRL will continue in round two. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
The NRL will continue in round two. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

The NRL will attempt to forge ahead with the season despite the coronavirus pandemic as the Warriors confirmed they will remain in Australia rather than return home to New Zealand.

On Sunday morning the NRL will hold a press conference where they will detail the plan to continue the season to avoid the financial disaster of postponing games.

Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys said: "This is the biggest challenge we've faced ... it's changing by the hour.

"We're leaving every option on the table. Because it's changing so quickly, we would be silly to go in one direction, including isolating players, suspending the season.

"... I can't stress enough that our game has never faced a challenge like this. The longer it takes, the more pressure on our financial viability. It could have catastrophic effects on us moving forward.

"Our money will only last so long, and once it is extinguished, we're in big trouble.

"I'll leave you with this, Australia without rugby league is not Australia. The government has to assist us in this crisis because it is not of our own doing. Rugby league has been a fabric of our society for hundreds of years.

"It's people's escape, people's relaxation. And we need to do everything to continue that great tradtion."

It follows Friday's decision to play games without crowds from round two.

Travellers face a two-week isolation period if they arrive in New Zealand after midnight on Sunday (NZDT), virtually ruling out any chance of a game being played there while the restrictions are in place.

The Warriors were scheduled to arrive back in Auckland on Sunday afternoon after their opening round loss to Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

"In the interim we will continue round two. At this stage we will play round two and assess the situation," ARL commission chairman Peter V'landys said.

"Any decision we make today could change tomorrow.

"We are going to review all options, including isolating players and suspending the season.

"This situation is fluid and is changing by the hour.

"We will continue to take experts' advice ... And we will continue to act on that advice."

However, club boss Cameron George said the team will remain in Australia and be based on the Gold Coast as they prepare to play Canberra next weekend.

"We had extensive meetings with (NRL chief executive) Todd Greenberg, the Rugby League Players' Association and our players and staff until late last night to consider all our options," he said in a statement.

"There is a lot of take into account, not least the impact on families back home as well as our members, fans, sponsors and other stakeholders.

"Ultimately we have reached a decision for the team to stay in Australia for the coming week. They'll be based on the Gold Coast and will play Canberra next weekend, probably at Cbus Super Stadium.

"The landscape is changing so rapidly, though, and together with the NRL we'll monitor the situation on a daily basis."

The decision will have a profound impact on the players' families, with centre Peta Hiku expecting a child with his partner next week.

Jess Blair, the wife of Warriors forward Adam, took to Twitter on Saturday night to clarify how this decision would impact her family.

"I would cry!! I have two kids, no family studying my post grad uni and work I have exams, intensives and classes that are completely worked around Adam schedule," she wrote.

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This story 'Australia needs rugby league': NRL to continue despite threat first appeared on The Canberra Times.