Origin uncertainty as COVID cluster grows

No decision is expected today in relation to the opening State of Origin match, that’s scheduled to be played at the MCG on June 9.

Melbourne’s COVID-19 cluster continues to grow, with a further 11 cases reported today, bringing the total number to 26.

Reports suggest a seven-day lockdown will be announced later this morning.

Nine’s Danny Weidler reports the NRL will delay a decision on the Origin opener.

“NRL says no decision today on Melbourne Origin,” he tweeted.

“They are monitoring the COVID situation and sure to be examining their contractual obligations.”

A decision is expected by Monday at the latest.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo spoke to media earlier this week, revealing the league had contingency plans in place in case a late change was needed.

“Clearly, State of Origin is coming up pretty soon and we need to think about what happens with Victorian State Government protocols but also with exemptions required for travel so we are monitoring it but at this stage we aren’t taking any further action,” Abdo said.

“It’s early days. At this stage, we are monitoring the situation very carefully but if we have to increase the protocols [for players] we will and if we need to consider a contingency plan for where we play Origin I, we will.

“We are looking at several venues for that but we would have to see a significant increase in the number of community cases and the potential for lockdown in Victoria before we would consider that.”

Adelaide or Perth are reportedly both keen to host the match should it be moved.

The Melbourne Storm, currently in Queensland ahead of tonight’s match against Brisbane, will stay on the Sunshine Coast indefinitely.

“Following consultation with the NRL, Melbourne Storm has decided to extend its camp at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast given the current fluid COVID-19 situation in Melbourne,” the club said in a statement.

“Storm will continue to liaise with governments, their health authorities and the NRL before making any decision on a return date to Victoria.”

Melbourne’s next home game is against the Titans on Saturday week.

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