The St George Illawarra Dragons are reportedly one of the hardest-hit NRL teams shortly after Christmas, with more than a dozen players missing.

All up, once NRLW players and staff members are included, the club has more than 20 of their personnel in quarantine, eating into pre-season for both men's and women's teams.

The women's competition will start in February, while the men's competition is due to kick-off on the second weekend of March, with pre-season trials played in late February.

According to an Illawarra Mercury report, most tests were returned positive over the end of the Christmas break, which will see players and staff able to return during the coming days as their isolation periods end.

It's understood however that players must return either three negative rapid tests over consecutive days, or a negative PCR test after testing positive to return to club environments.

Dragons' CEO Ryan Webb said there will be unique challenges this season.

"I wouldn't say it's going to be more challenging because the last two seasons have thrown some pretty good challenges up," Webb told the publication.

"It will pose some unique chellenges and we'll just have to work through those as we have the last couple of years.

"That's why you've got the experts involved in there to make those calls. They consult with the clubs and the NRL to come up with something that works.

"What they've come up with the last couple of years has worked so I'm sure we'll work through it over the next six weeks as we run into our first preseason games.

"I'm sure we'll have something in place by then that best suits the times and I'm sure that'll probably have to adjust as we go as well."

Webb also said he thought a proposal to expand squads to have more replacement players available wouldn't hurt.

"It's not something we were envisaging but it certainly can't hurt," Webb said.

"You see other sports that are running now, whether it's the Big Bash, the NBL and American sports, players are going to fall out and become unavailable throughout the year.

"Depth's definitely going to play a role, probably more so that it has in previous years, if things continue the way they are at the moment."

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