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Best out after COVID-19 bubble mix-up as Storm head north

Bradman Best has been ruled out of Newcastle's match against North Queensland after inadvertently breaching the NRL's COVID-19 protocols, while Melbourne are bracing to play home matches in Sydney or Brisbane.

Best has been isolated from Newcastle's training bubble for seven days after visiting the Central Coast home of his parents last Sunday following the loosening of the NRL's strict biosecurity rules.

The 18-year-old had moved to Newcastle when players resumed training on May 4 to avoid biosecurity issues as Woy Woy was considered a COVID-19 hot spot at the time.

After learning the restrictions for players were being eased from last Sunday, Best returned home to visit his mum and dad but it was a move that proved costly for the teen star.

Under the relaxed Apollo protocols, which were issued last Saturday, Best's parents could have visited his home as players are allowed up to five guests. They could have also met for breakfast at a café.

However, any visit by a player to another household requires the approval of an NRL COVID-19 co-ordinator - a fact Best was unaware of at the time.

After realising he may have breached the NRL biosecurity protocols, Best advised the Knights last Monday and he has been unable to have any contact with teammates since.

Best will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing and a temperature test before he can return to training next week.

The incident is the latest example of how strictly the Apollo protocols are being applied after Canterbury prop Aidan Tolman was forced to isolate for 14 days after a teacher at the school his children attend tested positive to COVID-19.

Unlike Tolmam, who has been named on the bench for Sunday night's match against Wests Tigers, Best was only required to isolate for seven days as he did not have contact with anyone known to have the coronavirus.  

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Meanwhile, Storm players will fly to Sydney on Wednesday still unsure when they can return to Melbourne.

The Storm play the Warriors on Friday night at Netstrata Jubilee Oval and are expected to remain in Sydney for next Thursday night's match against the Roosters.

Both matches were initially scheduled to be played at AAMI Park.

However, concerns over a spike in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne forced the relocation of the Warriors clash and has cast doubt over upcoming home matches against the Roosters and Titans.

With Victoria yet to ease restrictions on crowds, a Storm-Roosters match in Sydney could host up to 10,000 fans depending on the size of the venue.

The Storm's only away match in the next month is against Canberra on July 11 and if they can't play in Melbourne the club is keen to set up camp on the Sunshine Coast.

However, the Queensland Government is yet to approve a request to exempt the Storm from a 14-day quarantine period if they cross the border after declaring Melbourne a COVID-19 hot-spot.

It is unclear where the July 17 match against Gold Coast would be played if the Storm can't host the Titans at AAMI Park or enter Queensland.

The Storm are also due to play Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on July 24.

It is understood Melbourne officials are also considering other places in NSW to base the team if necessary, with Newcastle, Wollongong and Gosford possible locations.

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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