A number of Group 3 rugby league clubs believe there is merit in implementing a form of player bubble as a way to safeguard against any impending COVID-19 cases.
Wauchope Blues, Port Macquarie Sharks and Port City Breakers all believe a concept used throughout summer in the A-League and the Big Bash League could work.
Under the arrangement, players are split into smaller groups of up to five to minimise the risk of an entire playing squad being sent into isolation and subsequently forced to forfeit the following week.
Blues co-captain Beau Kettle said while they hadn't implemented the bubbles as part of their pre-season training program, it was something they would consider into the future.
We haven't thought about going that far at this stage, but it's definitely something we'll look into.- Wauchope Blues co-captain Beau Kettle
"We haven't thought about going that far at this stage, but it's definitely something we'll look into," he said.
"I'll put it forward to the president and the rest of the coaches because none of the clubs have the depth to lose six players at a time.
"We don't want a repeat of what happened last year where they just called the season off."
Sharks president Zac Newcombe could also see benefits of the concept although he felt it would need to be tweaked.
"If it could work, why not .... but you know what bush footballers are like," he said.
"It would have to be something they take seriously and be aware that if they don't, then they're at risk of not being able to play because you get too many COVID risks in a group.
It's something that when push comes to shove there will be no mingling between senior grades so first grade, reserve grade, under-18s and the girls would all train separately.- Port Macquarie Sharks president Zac Newcombe
"But the more things we can try and do to show the NSWRL we'll work with them is for the better. I could see it working better with squads rather than with players."
The Sharks have tentatively put forward a proposal to segregate their four different sides should the need arise.
"It's something that when push comes to shove there will be no mingling between senior grades so first grade, reserve grade, under-18s and the girls would all train separately," he said.
Last year the North Coast Bulldogs under-16 and under-18 representative programs were seen as a trial run with what could be implemented in senior grades.
Newcombe expected that to again be the case when the junior representative season kicks off on February 5.
"What I got most out of last year was the North Coast 16s and 18s were a trial for things they'll impose into club land for the season when it came around," he said.
"I'm sure we'll see when it kicks off of what NSWRL are going to impose."
Breakers president Geoff Kelly said they were still awaiting information from the NSWRL on what guidelines would be in place although all their players were double vaccinated last season.
"I know there's a big meeting coming up with Group 2 and Group 3, but we haven't been advised whether players have to be double vaccinated or not," he said.
"But as a club we want that to happen with all our players."
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