Wayne Bennett says the NRL needs a 'Plan B', claiming it's highly likely a player from one – or more – of the 16 NRL clubs will contract the coronavirus.
Bennett believes players and coaching staff should be virtually quarantined so they could play all eight games per round at one venue - removing the threat of a club having to isolate itself for two weeks.
"Plan A is to play footy as we are now but I don't know if that's sustainable," the seven-time premiership winner said after his side beat the Sharks 22-18 at ANZ Stadium to start South Sydney's 2020 campaign.
Bennett said everyone was in the hands of the medical experts but even they had no idea of how long the current pandemic situation would last.
"My idea was to quarantine us all – send us all away, the whole 16 teams and do everything we possibly can that no-one tests positive," he said.
"Make sure we're all tested before we leave and go into the north somewhere where the climate is hotter and there's less chance of guys catching this.
Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Sharks
"The odds are someone is going to get it."
Bennett did not know how long his scenario of 16 teams in the one venue would last. He also had only just learned that New Zealand was about to close its borders later this weekend.
But he said the game faced big financial challenges if it stopped matches altogether.
He refuted a News Corp report late Saturday which quoted as saying NRL games didn't have to keep going as a "mickey mouse competition".
Post-match he said he realised suspension would be "a terrific income loss" for the game.
"You all know the TV studios have clauses in their contract if we don't fulfil eight matches every week … the contract would be null and void," he said.
"There's probably about $90 million still to be paid to players for the next part of their contracts. If the TV contracts fall over, then who pays the players' contracts for the rest of the year?
"Then every club has 30-to-40 admin-coaching staff on their books. Sponsors will pull their sponsorship because they're getting no value for money … so it's huge.
"Maybe we need to braver and do something the other codes haven't done … but not at the expense of anyone's health.
"But I think there's an opportunity to do that if we have to go to a Plan B."
Bennett said rugby league had a dummy-run at having to move the competition to one venue with the NRL Nines in Perth. He also suggested Darwin or Townsville as possible venues.
"We could stay there with no crowds and play the fixtures list as shown," he said.
Directing the conversation back to the win over the Sharks, Bennett explained his reasoning behind giving new recruit Latrell Mitchell a rest in the 55th minute to allow Alex Johnson to come on as fullback.
"I had Alex there to back up and needed to get Alex some game time," Bennett said.
"I'm not trying to put Latrell under pressure that's he got to play 80 minutes right now. I was pretty happy with his performance tonight.
"It's a different position – he does more running than anywhere else. Fitness is an issue but he's fit enough.
"I just want him to get through today without a lot of mistakes, without trying to force things because he thinks he's got to do something.
"I'm prepared to accept it's going to take him a while to get him to where we want him to go but we'll get him there."