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COVID-19 updates: NSWRL comps cancelled; Arrow banned from Origin

The NSWRL has suspended most major and community competitions across the Greater Sydney region for another week in line with the latest NSW Public Health Order to deal with the public health risk from the COVID-19 outbreak.

All clubs involved in affected major competition matches receiving one point for a draw.

The finals series for the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership will now move straight to a grand final between minor premiers Central Coast Roosters and Mounties on Saturday July 24 at Leichhardt Oval.

Community Competitions in Regional NSW will proceed as scheduled and are not subject to stay at home orders but are subject to the other current NSW Public Health Order provisions and must still must adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

All suspended competitions across the Greater Sydney Region are scheduled to resume on the weekend of July 24.

The major competitions involved include Rounds 16 (3-4 July), 17 (10-11 July) and 18 (17-18 July) of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Jersey Flegg Cup, Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield; and Rounds 11 (3-4 July), 12 (10-11 July) and 13 (17-18 July) of the Mojo Homes Cup (Illawarra).

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Arrow biosecurity breach

Queensland Origin star Jai Arrow has been suspended for game three and is facing a $35,000 fine for allegedly breaching COVID-19 protocols by bringing an "unregistered guest" into Maroons camp.

Arrow has been accused of breaking NRL biosecurity rules by inviting the guest into the team hotel and was served with a breach notice by the game's governing body on Thursday.

The Rabbitohs lock is facing a two-game suspension and fine that would rule him out of both game three and South Sydney's round 18 clash against Canterbury.

Arrow will also undergo a 14-day isolation period at home, with Queensland Health authorities advised of the breach as soon as the NRL became aware of the incident.

“I know I have let a lot of people down, including my teammates, coaching staff and fans right across the rugby league community,” Arrow said in a statement on the QRL website.

“For this I am truly sorry. I have fully cooperated with the NRL Integrity Unit, and I understand the scrutiny and criticism coming my way.”

Origin III relocated

With the Greater Sydney region's COVID-19 lockdown extended another week, the third Ampol State of Origin match has been switched to Newcastle.

Next Wednesday's game has been transferred from Stadium Australia to McDonald Jones Stadium, which will become the second regional venue to host an Origin match after Townsville was the venue for the series opener.

The match will be played in front of up to 20,000 fans or 75% of seated capacity. Fans located in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour will not be permitted to purchase tickets.

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Rabbitohs v Cowboys now in Newcastle

Friday night’s game between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and North Queensland Cowboys has been relocated from Stadium Australia to McDonald Jones Stadium.

The match was switched to Newcastle to comply with Queensland Public Health Orders.

The Rabbitohs will be permitted to have a crowd capped at 50 per cent of capacity at the venue.

With the Greater Sydney lockdown being extended for a week, the Bulldogs v Roosters game at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday and the Sharks v Warriors Sunday fixture at Kogarah will be played behind closed doors.

Storm Origin troupe good to go

Melbourne Origin players joined their team’s camp late on Tuesday after being forced to remain in the Victorian capital while awaiting COVID-19 test results for prop Christian Welch and Sydney Roosters pair Fletcher Baker and Brad Abbey.

Welch, Cameron Munster and Felise Kaufusi and NSW representatives Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane and Nicho Hynes had been due to depart Melbourne on Monday night but their flights were delayed as the Roosters pair, who played in last Thursday night’s match against the Storm, had visited COVID-19 exposure sites and were required to undergo testing.

In addition, Welch demonstrated flu-like symptoms and also had to have a COVID-19 test.

Welch, Baker and Abbey have since received test results clearing them of the coronavirus and the six Storm players will now catch a charter flight from Melbourne to join their Origin team-mates later today.

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Payten, Neame given all clear

Cowboys coach Todd Payten and player Griffin Neame have been given the all-clear to return to their regular duties.

The NRL announced on Tuesday that the pair had gone "over and above public health orders".

Payten was forced to miss last week's match against the Knights in Newcastle after having been deemed a close contact of a positive COVID case.

"Payten is allowed to return after being reclassified by Queensland Health as no longer being a close contact. The reclassification was made last week, but as an abundance of caution the NRL requested Payten remain in isolation for 7 days and return a negative test today," the NRL statement said.

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Roosters duo isolated

Roosters duo Fletcher Baker and Brad Abbey will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine after both players were exposed to positive COVID-19 cases.

The Roosters released a statement on Monday evening to confirm Baker and Abbey had been tested after being deemed close contacts to separate cases in Sydney’s east.  

Abbey is awaiting the outcome of his test while Baker has returned a negative result. 

Baker attended a supermarket at the same time as a case, while Abbey lives in an apartment block where a positive case was recorded.

Both players were notified of the potential risk by NSW Health and were not deemed to have broken any NRL biosecurity protocols.

Abbey joined the Roosters on a train and trial contract at the start of the year after stints at the Raiders and Bulldogs. He is yet to make his club debut but was 18th player in round 14.

Baker notched his eighth NRL appearance against the Storm in Thursday night 's 46-0 loss to the Storm after making his debut in round two.

Blues switch pre-game camp

The Blues' bid for a rare Origin whitewash has been dealt an early curve ball with NSW forced to shift their camp back north to Kingscliff due to the uncertainty around Sydney's COVID-19 situation.

NSW had planned to base their game-three preparations at Magenta Shores near Norah Head on the Central Coast, however they flew on Tuesday to the NSW north coast.

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"There is still a lot of uncertainty on a number of different levels to do with the COVID situation around Greater Sydney and the Central Coast,” NSWRL CEO David Trodden said.

"This was considered the best option in the circumstances, and it was one which worked well for the team for game two."

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North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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