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Rugby league will return in Darwin.

The first community rugby league games since the nation-wide COVID-19 shutdown will be played on Friday when Northern Territory competitions get underway.

The Northern Territory has had the fewest coronavirus cases in Australia and their government and health authorities have allowed community sport to return.

NRL NT as well as the Central Australia Rugby Football League and Katherine Rugby League competitions will commence across the weekend, starting with the NRL NT juniors.

Men's and women's matches of varying junior and senior ages and even a Nines tournament in Alice Springs will take place.

"We're absolutely pumped to be starting community rugby league back this weekend," NRL NT general manager Nigel Roy said.

"The Territory's done a fantastic job in getting control over the coronavirus and the now the community's starting to get its rewards.

"Obviously the Northern Territory Rugby League is the first rugby league competition up and going in the country. We're so very excited to lead the charge for our sport."

Roy, who played for the Illawarra Steelers, North Sydney Bears, Northern Eagles and London Broncos between 1993 and 2004, said there had been "a lot of work behind the scenes to get the necessary approvals from the National Rugby League."

"We weren't expecting to be back playing on the field as soon as what we are. But it's great to see the NRL is leaving no stone unturned to allow us to get back on the park," he added.

NRL NT competitions didn't have the chance for any action before the COVID-19 pandemic struck as they usually get underway in April.

As such, Roy said players are "champing at the bit" to finally compete after completing two lots of pre-season training.

He said there had been a "tremendous amount of growth" in rugby league in the Northern Territory in recent years.

"The Northern Territory Government's invested into a fantastic new facility, the Territory Rugby League Stadium here in Darwin," Roy said.

"On the back of that we had a large increase of 10 percent participation within the Darwin area for our game.

"We're hoping to continue on with that participation but coronavirus represents a challenge for us all.

"It's about getting back on the park this weekend and hopefully we can maintain our registrations from last year."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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