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Storm set to stay in Melbourne but remain on standby

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15th February, 2021
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Melbourne players and officials have been put on standby to leave Victoria at short notice if the NRL grows concerned over COVID-19 cases in the state.

Storm bosses met with NRL counterparts on Monday, where the option of flying the team across the NSW border was discussed.

Players have been told that for now they can remain in Melbourne, where they have been given permission to train through the lockdown.

But while just the sole locally acquired case on Monday pleased the NRL, there are still growing concerns over border closures.

The sport’s governing body were worried by the fact Storm players were not allowed into Queensland to play in Saturday’s All-Stars match due to closed borders.

A similar border closure into NSW would potentially wreak havoc, particularly if Storm players were asked to sit through two weeks of quarantine before playing.

“We have games that have to be played in both NSW and Queensland and the season is not far away,” Peter V’landys told AAP.

“It would not just affect the Storm, but any team who has been to Victoria to play.

“We’ve got to be two or three steps ahead, just like we were last year.”

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Newcastle are the first team scheduled to play in Melbourne this season, with a trial match set for Casey’s Field next Saturday night.

In the back of V’landys’ mind remains the fact his call to move the Storm out of Victoria last June when numbers began to rise went a long way to saving the NRL season.

However the four months the Storm spent away from home en route to winning the premiership is no doubt weighing heavily on players.

“There are currently no plans for Storm to move from its home at AAMI Park in Melbourne,” the club said in a statement.

“The team has been given approval to continue training in Melbourne under the Victorian Government’s directions.

“As we have done in the past, we will monitor the situation closely and plan accordingly.

“The club will continue to seek advice from the Victorian Government and the NRL to ensure we can prepare for the 2021 season in the best way possible.”

Those at both the NRL and in clubs believe this is a reality of how the season is likely to take shape until the first phases of the vaccine are largely rolled out which will protect those at high risk.

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Working off varying scenarios, the NRL are hoping for a return to normality with overnight stays and commercial flights used.

However they have a number of contingencies in place, including a move to reduced restrictions from last year or a full-blown bubble if required.

Most clubs believe it’s likely that the competition could regularly move between different levels of restrictions as small outbreaks occur.

© AAP