NRL clubs told to slash staff and recruit 'COVID-19 cop'
NRL clubs will spend the next 24 hours making the gut-wrenching decisions to tell half of their football staff not to return when training starts again next week.
Clubs were told on Wednesday they will be capped at just 18 staff members at training with the rest of their 50 pre-approved list to be made up of players. That is about 50 per cent less than what some clubs generally operate at meaning chief executives and head coaches will now make some tough calls after Project Apollo confirmed the restrictions.
The number of officials allowed to attend matches is also slashed with just 20 players and 12 staff members permitted. Clubs could generally have up to 50 staff at any home match with some club bosses also considering watching matches on TV.
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THE NEW NRL
- Clubs allowed to report in on Monday for educational purposes only.
- Training resumes Tuesday.
- Pre-approved list of 50 people only for training which includes 32 players and 18 staff, dropping staff levels by half. Lists of 50 for training.
- Only 20 players and 12 staff members per club allowed on game day.
- Clubs will be monitored by a "COVID cop" attached to each team.
The changes are part of the NRL's strict biosecurity measures which will be in place come Monday. The NRL has also beefed up its policing of the guidelines by appointing a "COVID cop" at each club to ensure clubs and players are compliant.
The NRL had planned to use three independent people spread across each club, but will instead delegate one independent person per club. If clubs don't comply they could be stripped of competition points or heavily fined. Any punishments will be handed down by the NRL's integrity unit.
The presence of the "COVID cop" will ensure teams are not tempted to resume training a day early after the NRL delayed the start by one day.
Teams will front-up for an educational seminar at club bases on Monday but will not be permitted to train until the following day. Each person on the list of 50 must complete an online training module before they are allowed inside the venue.
The "COVID cop" will read the Riot Act to players on Monday and give them clear instructions about what they can and cannot do.
ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said players will know exactly what is required of them.
"Once they have that, there is no excuse," V'landys said. "Zero. They have to appreciate that they're not just risking their own career, they are risking the careers of all in the game. If there is a slip-up it brings the whole game, not just them."
Players will be asked to fill in daily health-checks and that information will be channelled back to an NRL controlled central system. An application is still being worked out.
Project Apollo head Wayne Pearce and other NRL officials including chief operating officer Nick Weeks were on the phone call to club bosses who were warned in no uncertain terms that any misbehaviour will not be tolerated.
They were read NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's comments from Wednesday morning that were scathing of the game's players after Nathan Cleary, Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr and flouted social distancing rules. Berejiklian said "disappointing doesn't begin to cut it" when asked to describe the players actions.
The NRL is still working through discussions regarding the value of the remaining 18 matches with their broadcast partners. Once that is settled, a draw will be announced.
Originally published as NRL clubs told to slash staff