Crowds are set to be allowed to return, albeit at 50% capacity, from next weekend in the NRL.
The competition which was relocated to south east Queensland a month ago and postponed for 24 hours on a chaotic Saturday last weekend as Queensland entered a snap lockdown, was barred from having crowds this weekend.
It came on the back of Queensland's snap lockdown as they attempted to control their own COVID outbreak.
With little to no chance of the NRL returning to Sydney this weekend, the lockdown in the harbour city to run until at least the end of August, crowds being ripped out of Queensland venues was a financial dagger for the game.
However, with Queensland health announcing the lockdown will be eased from 4pm this afternoon on 11 impacted lockdown zones, Channel 7s Chris Garry said crowds would be allowed at half capacity from next weekend.
BREAKING: Crowds set to return to professional sport in South East Queensland this week at 50 per cent capacity.
— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) August 8, 2021
It remains to be seen whether crowds returning will be able to ease the workload on tired turf at both Suncorp Stadium and CBus Super Stadium, with the two venues hosting all of the games this weekend between them, after Suncorp was forced to host seven games last weekend.
With a handful of teams in a Sunshine Coast hub, the NRL would likely look to bring the Sunshine Coast Stadium back online, while regional venues could also be used. A game was played in Mackay just 48 hours before the lockdown, while a game in Rockhampton had to be postponed on the day it was announced between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons.
The NRL will however, be watching the situation in northern Queensland with interest. Cairns has today been plunged into a snap three-day lockdown, and while it won't have any impact on the North Queensland Cowboys at this stage, an outbreak in the region could have sweeping ramifications for the club if it spreads to Townsville.