Canberra head coach Ricky Stuart has contacted ARL chairman Peter V'landys about the prospect of allowing every contracted name the ability to play first-grade next season given the prospect of further Covid chaos.
Stuart's proposal that would see NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg prospects the chance to make their NRL debuts at any stage of the 2022 season was flagged following the news that a pair of names from his 30-man squad had tested positive for the virus.
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While Stuart's motion is currently being mulled by V'landys ahead of the season's commencement in March, The Daily Telegraph has reported that it remains just one of several avenues the governing body is currently exploring.
With the infected duo bringing Canberra's Covid count to four after two of the club's off-field staff also returned positive tests, Stuart claimed that the competition could not afford to come to a standstill on a consistent basis.
The long-term pedagogue also expressed openly his desire to see club's ability to field players expanded.
“People smarter than me are looking after this but what I told Peter is that we have got to have our rookies, our trial trainers, we have got to have them all ready to go,” Stuart said.
“And it can’t be in June/July (when clubs can call up players outside the top 30 roster).
“We have to train these blokes as if they are going to be playing first grade at some stage this year because there is going to be disruptions, but we can’t ruin the product.”
While Canberra would hold the ability to cover the losses of their unnamed pair if games were played this weekend, should wider infections occur between March and October, the outcome would almost certainly be bleaker.
And with the league requiring eight televised games each week, it appears likely that Stuart will get his wish.
The NRL has already claimed that they will be testing players on a near-daily basis on the resumption of pre-season training in early January
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Although this latest mandate will see a strong increase in the number of swabs undertaken, V'landys stressed that the practice had proven successful in the racing world.
“The ones I have been using in racing saved racing, because we have been doing it with the jockeys for the last eight or nine months,” he said.
“And I am confident if we do it properly we won’t be interrupted."
The omnipresent administrator also added further information into how each of the competition's players would be assessed in the new year.
“We will test every player before they go to training," V'landys continued.
“And we are going to do it in a way that is the least inconvenient.
“It is self-test where you take the cartridge with you and you bring it to training, and that way no one can get into training that hasn’t had a test.
“It only takes 15 minutes. It only actually takes a minute and the other 14 minutes is waiting to get the result.
“Our protocols will commence at a certain date and I am very confident that we won’t be interrupted.”