Sydney clubs are set to play games in empty stadiums, teams will use charter flights for interstate travel and players will revert to strict bubble conditions after the NSW Government announced a lockdown until July 9.
The stay at home orders for Greater Sydney also forced all members of the NSW squad to undergo COVID-19 tests in Brisbane ahead of Sunday's Origin, while officials are considering moving Game III from Stadium Australia.
Blues coach Brad Fittler and 13 other players and staff who had attended former captain Boyd Cordner's retirement announcement at the SCG had already undergone tests on Saturday morning but the entire squad were later tested.
Players at the NRL's nine Sydney clubs, as well as the Central Coast-based Warriors, are now under the same COVID-19 biosecurity protocols they endured when the 2020 Telstra Premiership resumed on May 28 last year.
No crowds will be allowed at games in Greater Sydney until the order is lifted, while other stadiums in NSW will be limited to 50 per cent capacity.
It is unclear what affect the stay at home order for Greater Sydney will have on the next State of Origin at Stadium Australia on July 14, as the lockdown is due to be lifted five days earlier.
Newcastle, Canberra or an interstate venue are set to be considered.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys said the full impact of the NSW Government announcement on the competition and Origin would be "investigated and analysed" before any decision was made.
Maroons v Blues - Origin II
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro took to social media on Saturday night, posting on Twitter: "Despite the growing risk of COVID-19 in Greater Sydney, we will not be giving up our right to host the State of Origin decider.
"I’ve spoken to @pvlandys and indicated we could host the game in Newcastle if the health advice recommends it not be held in Sydney."
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told ABC Radio on Saturday night that they were well prepared for the current obstacles after last year's experiences when the Telstra Premiership was able to restart two months after shutting down due to the pandemic.
"We’ve been through this before. We have been anticipating all possible scenarios.
"This has emerged fairly rapidly. [We will] react accordingly," he said.
"We are working with the clubs with how we will deliver the games accordingly.
"What we know the games played in greater Sydney won’t have crowds. We are looking to see if it is feasible to play in regional locations. The logistics of that, we want to keep the community and players safe.
"Our default position is we play the draw [as it is]."
The Sydney Roosters have already moved Thursday night's match against Melbourne to Newcastle, while Penrith and Wests Tigers had begun refunding tickets for their home games next weekend.
Cronulla are due to fly to Brisbane next Sunday to face the Broncos and Abdo said the NRL was considering moving the game from Suncorp Stadium.
The NSW Government's edict for Greater Sydney will have ramifications for four other games in round 16 - the Warriors' match against St George Illawarra in Gosford and Panthers v Eels at Penrith on Friday night, Saturday's Canterbury-Manly clash at Bankwest Stadium and Sunday's Tigers-Rabbitohs fixture at Leichhardt, as well as games the following weekend.
Latrell looking forward, not backward, as Suncorp return looms
As for Origin III, scheduled to be played at Sydney's Stadium Australia on July 14, Abdo said "one option may be to play that game in a regional venue in NSW - we might play in Newcastle. A third scenario could be playing it in another state".
NRL players who have been placed back in a bubble will undergo daily temperature tests and are unable to leave home except to train or access essential services.
They will be subjected to daily temperature checks and training and playing venues will be separated into "clean" and "dirty" zones.
All NRL teams are expected to revert to “fly in, fly out” procedures for interstate matches, with players travelling on charter flights.
The strict lockdown directions meant that many NSW players had to farewell family unable to attend Origin II at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night, while Fittler was forced to ask Cordner to present their jerseys before the game.
"Boyd is our man," Fittler said. "The timing was sort of perfect really in that COVID hit and we had plans that didn't work out but we've got the perfect person to do the job."
Cordner has been in camp with the Blues after announcing his retirement on June 14 and he along with others present, including Fittler, assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon and captain James Tedesco, were required to undergo COVID tests.
"Originally there were 14 of us who had COVID tests. Then this afternoon everyone had to have a COVID test so the whole staff, players and everyone involved in our crew has had to be COVID tested," Fittler said.
Many Blues players had farewelled family members after the lockdown announcement and Fittler said they would be playing for them on Sunday night.
“It was a distraction for players today to have to go through processes of putting family on flights or changing travel itineraries," Fittler said. "They are the things that don’t always come up on the eve of probably the most important game of their lives.
"I think a lot of them have had to wave goodbye to family who were up here ready to go to the game and have been told they can’t go. A lot of people were on their way up here and have been told to turn around and go home.
"We play for a lot of people tomorrow night and it is a shame that they can’t be at the ground with us but we just deal with what we have got to do.
"There are people most probably doing it a lot tougher than us. We are being looked after in a great hotel and we will get the chance of a lifetime tomorrow to play in front of a lot of people who enjoy what we do."