Plans for the shift of 12 NSW and ACT clubs were being finalised on Monday, with league bosses realistic that the rest of the season could be played out in Queensland.
Clubs were also feeling the pinch, trying to squeeze the cavalcades of support staff into just 11 bubble vacancies after having almost double as many non-players allowed in last year.
Teams will be split across hubs on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast with hopes families can join soon.
But the biggest challenge for the NRL remains with the 500 people inside the bubble.
Players and staff will at first remain in quarantine for two weeks and only allowed out to train and play, before potentially earning extra freedoms.
During that initial fortnight there is some chance crowds will not be allowed at some games, depending on what can be negotiated with the Queensland Government this week.
“We’re going to put a proposal to the Queensland Government on a way for us to safely secure the players and the environment,” NRL boss Andrew Abdo said.
“We are very experienced around clean and dirty zones and different levels of protocols. So there is a possibility of us moving to crowds very quickly.
“After around about a two-week period, we will then start looking at opportunities to play double headers and triple headers.
“We want to look at the upside of what is a great opportunity for our fans in Queensland to see multiple teams potentially play.”
The NRL must also negotiate to have Origin players rejoin their club bubbles after Wednesday, but are confident they will be able to do so.
Brisbane’s maiden grand final is also not out of the question, with Abdo unwilling to put a number on what drop in COVID-19 cases would allow clubs to return after 112 were recorded in NSW on Monday.
“We’re committing for a four-week period. Now, will it be longer than that? It’s possible,” Abdo said.
“It is somewhat linked to obviously the infection rate (in Sydney), it’s also linked to restrictions.
“And it’s also linked to exemptions that we might be able to obtain from other state governments too.
“We also need to consider the opportunity cost of not being able to have crowds or potential disruption.”
What will change is how clubs operate off the field.
Some will have to share doctors and even analysts or sports scientists, with 30 of the 41 spots in most club’s bubbles to be taken up by players.
Most clubs have a head coach, three assistants, two physios, a football manager, gear steward as well as strength and conditioning coaches and on-field trainers with the required qualifications.
A bubble will still be maintained at the home base of those clubs with players not making the initial move into Queensland allowed to continue training.Jump to next article