Top Australian biochemical and weapons expert advising Project Apollo committee on biosecurity plan


Strict Queensland border controls and problems with shipping the Warriors across the Tasman for a 14-day isolation period means the NRL will ramp up its logistics around having teams housed, training and playing in Sydney for the season restart.

The biochemical and weapons expert is seen as pivotal in setting up a risk analysis and mapping out how match-day activities will function in empty stadiums.

Balls were disinfected at Lottoland during the opening round clash between Manly and Melbourne due to coronavirus fears.Credit:Getty Images

The NRL is poised to temperature check players three times on game day. Powerbrokers have even discussed the set-up of multiple areas – a dirty zone, transition zone and clean zone – to separate athletes and officials.

No detail has been spared, with discussion ranging from what time broadcasters need to lay cabling at venues to how club officials handle dirty playing gear after matches.

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The biosecurity proposals are expected to be lodged with the Rugby League Players Association and clubs within a week.

It is expected they will also be shown to the relevant federal and state government officials, many of whom have questioned the NRL’s “ambitious” timeline to relaunch the season.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to relax border controls by providing exemptions for the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans to fly in and out of NSW for matches. She doubled down on Tuesday, saying she hoped there wouldn’t be a State of Origin series played this year.

“I hope there’s not [an Origin series midway through 2020],” she told Nine, the publisher of this masthead. “We always have a State of Origin, but how can you have it [this year]? Maybe in December? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

But Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher said it was premature to rule out Brisbane hosting an Origin match this year – let alone scrapping the financial juggernaut.

I don’t want to get into a slanging match with the Premier, but I think it’s far too early to call that

Bruce Hatcher

“I don’t want to get into a slanging match with the Premier, but I think it’s far too early to call that,” he said. “I really want to see one of the matches played here in Queensland – at least one – because it’s a highlight of the year for anyone who follows sport or big events.

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“I know the Premier is a real fan of Origin. She turns up to the games and is a great supporter of the Maroons. Unless she’s got more information than what she’s told us about, maybe she’s making a comment to slow people down a bit.

“If there was a preference for having three games in Sydney over three games in Queensland, there’s no way in the world she would agree to that.

“I would love to see a month to six weeks of the [NRL] competition get under way and then get the three games played in reasonable proximity to each other.”

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