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No free kicks: Broncos to flee city on charter flight, Lions stranded in Melbourne


Greater Brisbane’s snap lockdown is playing havoc with Easter weekend sporting events, with both the Brisbane Broncos NRL and Brisbane Lions AFL teams suffering major disruptions to their schedules.

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The Broncos squad and coaching staff will be rushed out of Queensland and into NSW after their home city o beat the three-day lockdown which begins at 5pm on Monday.

The Broncos were told late on Monday morning they would need to board a chartered flight just hours later, and will be based in Sydney for at least the next 10 days.

That will allow them to enter Victoria to face the Melbourne Storm in their Good Friday showdown, before being away to South Sydney on April 8.

And the Brisbane Lions – already stuck in Melbourne – may spend weeks away from home. The Lions’ home game against Collingwood at the Gabba on Thursday night will be moved to Melbourne.

The Lions have been stuck in limbo in Victoria since last Friday night’s loss to Geelong, awaiting further updates on Brisbane’s developing virus situation.

The team is scheduled to meet the Western Bulldogs at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on April 10 and could conceivably stay in Victoria until then if the situation in their home city worsens.

The Broncos had originally made moves to fly to Melbourne on a chartered flight on Tuesday afternoon, in a bid to be tested and be able to prepare as usual.

But the hasty charter flight to Sydney became necessary to avoid any further issues after four more cases of community transmission were confirmed in Brisbane on Monday.

“The players and staff have taken the changes in their stride,” interim Broncos CEO Neil Monaghan said.

“While it’s tough on many of our team with young families, they are keen to get on the road and prepare for a great challenge against the Storm.”

Brisbane players and staff were all tested over the weekend with results all negative, and have been in home isolation since.

Meanwhile, the NRL is trying to navigate Saturday’s clash between Cronulla and North Queensland on the Sunshine Coast, with the most likely scenario being that chartered flights are used to avoid having to transit through Brisbane.

Gold Coast is to host Canberra on Saturday, but the holiday strip is also not included in the lockdown.

In other codes, the Queensland Reds have remained in Sydney since their Super Rugby win over the Waratahs on the weekend and will fly direct to Melbourne this week for Saturday’s meeting with the Rebels.

Brisbane Roar’s A-League clash with Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday could be affected, while the NBL’s Brisbane Bullets are due to host South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday.

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