There won't be many fans in the stands to show their support but the Mark Hughes Foundation is "grateful" to be forging ahead with NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer Round.
This week's round-six matches will mark the fourth annual Beanie for Brain Cancer campaign. Last year $3.1 million was raised through the sale of beanies at NRL matches, Lowes and IGA stores and online.
While strict biosecurity measures in the COVID-19 world mean there won't be sales at games this year, the foundation made the call to "power on" and sell the 150,000-odd beanies ordered in December.
"Brain cancer doesn't stop or wait for anything," said ex-Knights back Mark Hughes, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013.
"I fully understand that some people aren't in a position to buy a beanie [after the summer's bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic]. But if you are in a position to buy a beanie, we'd really love that, because we certainly now more than ever need the support.
He added: "It's so much more than a beanie, it's a sign of hope for brain cancer. When you're wearing that beanie around, you're actually giving so many people some hope that people care and that we want to find an answer to brain cancer."
Community shows overwhelming support for Mark Hughes Foundation
Beanies can again be purchased at Lowes outlets or selected IGA stores as well as by ordering from the foundation's website, where donations can also be made.
And there are still ways to show your support from home - fans are encouraged to post photos on social media wearing their beanies while watching the footy on TV.
"This is a thing where referees, coaches, players, supporters, media all come together for the one cause and it's so powerful to see that take place," Hughes said.
"My great mate Matt Callander, who was heavily involved in Channel Nine and the NRL, really was the inspiration behind this and I'm sure he'd be up there now very proud at the way this is going."
Funds from Beanie for Brain Cancer Round will be used for more innovation grants to top researchers around Australia.
Half a million dollars from the 2019 proceeds were dedicated to a three-year fellowship in brain cancer research for Dr Julius Woongki Kim of the Children's Medical Research Institute.
"He will be working under the NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer banner. That's very special to us to have someone like that full-time on brain cancer," Hughes said.
Hughes thanked the NRL, Channel Nine, Fox League and the fans for continuing to get behind the cause.
This is a thing where referees, coaches, players, supporters, media all come together for the one causeMark Hughes on Beanie for Brain Cancer round
He also paid tribute to the efforts of former NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, a big supporter of Beanie for Brain Cancer, and said he looked forward to working with ARLC chairman Peter V'landys.
As for his own health, Hughes said he is feeling "fit, healthy and supported" ahead of a brain scan in four months' time, while Newcastle's hot start to the season has him "buzzing with excitement".
He is determined to keep fighting for those that have passed from brain cancer.
"There's Carly Forster, whose husband, Matt, in his mid-30s lost his battle last year," Hughes said.
"Matt was from Kurri where I'm from. [Carly] features in a lot of our material and it's just a reminder of how devastating brain cancer is and what it does to young families."