NRL clubs remain hopeful they will be able to return to their home grounds by round eight as the sport maps out its return to normality.
Club bosses met with ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo on Wednesday to discuss the next big month of moves.
While no guarantees were made, clubs are continuing to aim towards going back to their home grounds in a fortnight – some two weeks ahead of schedule.
That will be dependent on each ground’s suitability to manage the return to crowds, with small and medium-sized NSW venues to run at 25 per cent capacity from July 1.
Suburban grounds remain the biggest challenge on that front, with questions over how social distancing can be enforced on hills where there are not ticketed seat numbers.
The next big step towards that will come on Saturday night, where 2000 fans will be allowed into the Gold Coast’s clash with St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium.
The event will almost act as a trial for how crowds will be moved in and out of the venue, as well as how distancing limits will apply.
“It is hopeful we will loosen the 2000 (fans) and be in a position to have more people over the proceeding weeks,” Titans chief executive Stephen Mitchell told AAP.
“It’s all underwritten by our ability to make sure we comply with protocols and make this first stage a success.
“And that we are seen to do everything in our power to make sure we mitigate the risk of any sort of infection.”
Games have been limited to just six stadiums since the NRL resumed on May 28, with 12 clubs sharing three grounds in Sydney.
Elsewhere, Canberra are still in discussions with the ACT Government on whether they can take games back to the capital and when the 25 per cent capacity crowd rule will be applied.
Sydney clubs are also keen to return to their suburban grounds, even if it means giving up some potential attendance figures compared to playing at Bankwest Stadium.
Moves are afoot to loosen the club bubbles as early as next week, with the shift also taking into consideration the mental wellbeing of players.
While the rest of society has began to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, players are still unable to have visitors or leave the house other than to go to games or training.
Applications would need to be made to state governments to change the restrictions, given it was based on those biosecurity laws the game could resume.