The Melbourne Storm were supposed to have their homecoming this weekend. That has been thrown out the back window on Thursday though, with the Victorian capital's COVID situation worsening once more.
While 12 NRL clubs - all those based in Sydney, as well as the Newcastle Knights, New Zealand Warriors and Canberra Raiders - escaped to Queensland yesterday, the Storm were given permission to remain behind.
But with double digits in COVID cases located in Melbourne at today's announcements, rumours are swirling that the Victorian government will call a snap lockdown for the capital city, commencing at midnight tonight.
That means the Storm wouldn't be able to host the Knights this weekend, with the Queensland government unlikely to be keen on the idea of the Knights flying in and flying out of Melbourne, while the Storm, at best, would be forced to play with no fans and then potentially facing hazards when it comes to trvaelling in the following weeks.
While their exit from Melbourne is yet to be confirmed by either the club or the NRL, it's thought the announcement won't be far away and players have been advised to be ready to travel at a moment's notice.
Storm player Chris Lewis said the club were getting used to it.
"It's not ideal but we're sort of used to it now. We just adapt to the situation," back-rower Chris Lewis told the NRL.com Preview Podcast.
"We've got a game of footy to play and then you deal with the rest of it around it. The club's pretty good at setting things up and organising things around it.
"You sort of just get your footy boots, get there and get ready to play."
The Storm had only just returned to Melbourne from their Sunshine Coast hub, having spent time there since Melbourne's last lockdown during April. They also spent five months there in 2020.
It's understood the Storm will not be returning to the Sunshine Coast though, given Sydney-based clubs are already in their 14 day isolation period at the venue, with only playing and training allowed for all members of those clubs.
While details are still being finalised, there is still some hope the Victorian government may not call a lockdown. Even then, worsening COVID cases and tightening restrictions may prevent the game against Newcastle on Saturday from being played in Melbourne.