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No excuses: Mandatory player briefings before training resumes

Players and club officials will have no excuse for flouting the NRL's strict COVID-19 protocols after Monday's May 4 return-to-training date has been transformed into an "education day".

Players will not begin physical training until Tuesday after they have been briefed face-to-face by an NRL liaison officer and completed an online module clearing them to attend training facilities.

The new directive was delivered to coaches and player representatives from each of the 16 clubs following Wednesday's latest Project Apollo meeting to ensure compliance across the game.

Players and officials will be left with little doubt regarding their obligations under the strict new biosecurity measures, with the NRL Integrity Unit capable of stripping competition points or imposing heavy fines and suspensions for breaches.

Incidents involving Origin stars Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Nathan Cleary have drawn heavy criticism from all quarters, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian declaring their breaking of social distancing guidelines could put the NRL's proposed May 28 return date in jeopardy.

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Along with Newcastle's Tyronne Roberts-Davis, the quartet were issued a combined $120,000 in fines, with 60 per cent of that figure and a one-game ban each suspended for the rest of the season.

Final discussions around the biosecurity measures are continuing with a "common sense" approach to be applied to the unique elements of each team's training base.

As repeatedly stressed by ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys, restrictions on players will go far beyond those placed on the general public, with players prevented from non-essential travel to games or training, having visitors and required to complete daily health checks.

Clubs will be limited to a list of 50 people that can attend training – comprising a 32-player squad and 18 staff members, with those numbers dropping to 20 players and 12 staffers being cleared for game-day duties.

Project Apollo is due to meet next week to thrash out further details of the revamped season and analyse the first week of NRL life under the new health and safety protocols.

A draw for the rest of the season remains under development, with teams to play everyone once.

That scenario accounts for fixtures up until round 15 (with the two weekends played in March already on the books) with another five rounds still to be mapped out.