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Greenberg: A positive test wouldn't mean season shuts down

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said contingency plans were being explored to keep the competition operating in the event more than one club is sent into lockdown by a player or official testing positive for coronavirus.

Similarly, head office is also weighing up the rest of the competition continuing with potential for byes or split rounds being introduced should the Warriors return to New Zealand after this weekend and their players be put into a mandatory 14-day isolation period.

Greenberg provided an update on Monday confirming round-two games would, at this stage, go ahead as planned with no crowds in attendance, with the NRL's biosecurity expert scheduled to provide the ARL Commission with a full brief by Thursday.

NRL officials have been workshopping multiple scenarios to keep the regular season going in one form or another, be that via split rounds or a possible Magic Round-style concept with games played out of the one location or even venue.

Episode 3 - Xerri, Glenn, Cook and Mbye

Greenberg indicated a positive test from a player would not necessarily mean the season would be suspended, as was the case in the NBA when Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gilbert contracted COVID-19 last week.

He conceded a positive test from a player or official would effectively force their club and most likely any opposing teams they had recently played, into quarantine, but not necessarily other rival outfits if it could be satisfied that they were properly isolated from the virus.

"If a player is tested positive then I would suggest that player and those around him in that club would have to go into isolation and potentially the other players that person has connected with, potentially in a previous game," Greenberg said.

NRL COVID-19 update

"We’ve worked through multiple scenarios if we lose a club or a game and how we might pick that up over the course of the year.

"We’ve modelled some of those things – again we’re hoping we don’t get to it – but they’re scenarios that we’ve tested because we want to try and keep the games on as best we can.

"If that happens on multiple occasions clearly that’s going to put us into a very significant challenge."

As of Monday afternoon Cronulla's Bronson Xerri and Roosters star Angus Crichton have returned negative tests after presenting with flu-like symptoms over the weekend, while touch judge Tim Alouani-Roby went into self-isolation on Sunday and will continue to be monitored.

The Warriors remain in limbo due to travel restrictions in Australia and New Zealand, with the club and NRL to reassess whether they play on beyond Saturday's game against Canberra.

Both parties have accepted it is unfeasible to have Warriors players remain in Australia for the rest of the season.

But while stressing his gratitude to the Warriors in relocating to the Gold Coast on short notice, Greenberg said the NRL was preparing for the show to go on even if the Auckland-based side were to be unable to play in the immediate future.

Bulldogs happy to play on

"It's very possible for us to continue the competition if the Warriors want to go home," he said.

"Of course we want all 16 clubs to continue playing in the competition, but again that's a step that is a scenario and we will only get to that after this weekend."

It would appear playing midweek games is one of few options ruled out at this stage. Football's A-League is one code that is looking to condense its schedule to ensure as many games as possible are played in case of an eventual hiatus.

But Greenberg said rugby league's high-contact nature makes any shortened turnarounds beyond the current Thursday-Sunday schedule unworkable in regards to player welfare.

"We play a very physical sport, a collision sport and turnaround times are very important to us," Greenberg said.

"Whilst we would like to play as many games as we can on the schedule we'll try and stick to the schedule as best we can.

"If we lose a club or a game along the way we'll look to make it up but player workloads are equally important."