RLPA chief Clint Newton says welfare support for players, families and staff will need to be increased before the NRL's proposed May 28 kick-off date as more details of the game's biosecurity measures emerge.
ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce has revealed several protocols around temperature and swab testing, and the transition of players between "safe" and "dirty" zones are being explored by the governing body to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection in a revised 2020 competition.
Details around those measures, the prospect of teams relocating and welfare practices need to be clarified before the RLPA presents a full proposal to its players for them to agree to the plan.
Speaking to NRL.com on Thursday night, Newton stressed player support – particularly if interstate teams have to join the Warriors in basing themselves in NSW – would be the union's priority across the next round of restart discussions.
"We want to resume play as quick as possible, but there can't be a compromise on the health and well being of the players and staff," Newton said.
"The aim is best practice. Given what we're facing, whatever was in place in a regular season, we're going to have to increase that support.
Warriors ready to work with NRL on return to Australia
"What that looks like, those details are going to be worked out ... but we are going to have to provide the highest standards of support because it's not going to be easy.
"And in particular for the staff members at clubs. If they're charged with a duty of preparing and protecting players, we need to give them a bigger level of support too so they can do that."
At the start of this year 60 full-time wellbeing and education staff were employed across the NRL and 16 clubs, with another 20 part-time roles in the same capacity.
Following the suspension of matches the NRL stood down 95% of its staff, and numerous clubs moved to skeleton operations until the competition returns.
As part of last week's pay agreement between the RLPA and governing body, each club has provided an assurance that a well being and education resource was maintained for its players.
Based on pandemic expert advice and NSW's significantly reduced infection rate, hope is growing that players will be permitted to stay at home with their families under strict self-isolation policies rather than moving into locked down "bubble" environments.
The Warriors will still have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period when they travel to Australia, and potentially face months from their families if they are unable to travel with them as well.
Newton conceded "in a worst-case scenario, interstate players may need to be based here in NSW".
But it is hoped state government regulations will ease further in the seven weeks between now and May 28, allowing Queensland and Victorian-based teams to travel on game days.
Pearce meanwhile told WWOS Radio that, as was the case before the NRL's hiatus, one player testing positive to COVID-19 would not necessarily call the competition off immediately.
He outlined further policies being investigated by the NRL's innovation committee, including how players can be screened between "safe zones" and "dirty zones" – effectively any scenario where a player would come into contact with the public.
"We’re implementing stringent biosecurity measures that come on the advice of an expert we’re using," Pearce said.
"We will be adhering to the strictest guidelines in terms of policing those measures.
"We are focused on safety for our players and community safety.
"There’s a whole lot of protocols. We’re going to be rigorously testing … and temperature testing. We’ll also do a bit more detailed testing around the swabs.
"In terms of the protocols we'll be following we’re going to minimise the risk and will be policing transition zones between what’s called ‘safe zones’ and the ‘dirty zones’.
"It's quite technical but there's a whole of things that are going to be put in place.
"The fact is our workplace is going to have parameters in place to minimise the risk."