The NRL is investigating the possibility of moving round 17 matches to regional areas.
Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders has already had discussions with the NRL as the game deals with the current COVID lockdowns in Greater Sydney and areas of Queensland.
This week's NRL matches in the Sydney region will proceed as scheduled on the Central Coast, in Penrith, Parramatta and at Leichhardt but fans will be locked out at all venues.
Australian Rugby League (ARL) Commission chair Peter V'Landys stated earlier this week moving the round 17 matches to the bush was a possibility and Saunders, who is also chair of the NRL Regional Taskforce, spoke to some of the game's powerbrokers in relation to the matter on Wednesday morning.
The Dubbo MP stated he was confident Dubbo's Apex Oval and Glen Willow Stadium at Mudgee could host matches at short notice, if need be.
"Round 17 only has four games so it's definitely an opportunity," he said.
The biggest question doesn't relate to the players as they are currently in a COVID bubble environment and can easily fly in and fly out of regional locations.
But managing the gameday staff, including the many people involved in broadcasting the games, is the issue being investigated.
"To run any NRL game there's obviously a lot of associated staff so part of what is being looked at now is just about how to manage that side of things so we can get the game to happen, including the broadcast," Saunders said.
"That's part of what's being looked at. There's not just a financial impact on trying to get games broadcast from regional areas, and there would be an added cost in that, but there's the logistics of getting staff to and from in a safe way.
"It's all being looked at but there's definitely an appetite to do it and I've certainly said for our region, Mudgee and Dubbo, there's an absolute ability to do it. It's a matter now of whether it can logistically actually tick the boxes."
The four NRL games in round 17, reduced due to a number of clubs having a bye during the State of Origin period, are currently Manly hosting Canberra, South Sydney taking on the North Queensland Cowboys, the Bulldogs and Roosters meeting in Parramatta, and the Cronulla Sharks playing host to the New Zealand Warriors.
South Sydney has already played at both Mudgee and Dubbo this year, having played the Charity Shield pre-season match at Glen Willow while there was more than 10,000 people in attendance at Apex Oval for the round 11 meeting with Penrith.
When speaking to AAP , V'Landys said much of the decision-making this week will rely on the daily COVID updates from the state government.
"We're working on it, depending on each day's infection rate and where the infection is," he said.
"If it hasn't left Sydney, that is important.
"It would just be the games (being moved) at the moment. It's an option, we're investigating."
If the NRL decides moving matches to regional areas is viable, Saunders has no doubt Dubbo and Mudgee would be successful hosts and both would allow limited crowds to attend under the current restrictions.
Des Kennedy, mayor of the Mudgee Regional Council, showed his enthusiasm by simply texting Saunders 'Mudgee for Origin three' on Tuesday night following News Limited reports revealing the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) was open to moving the final State of Origin match of the year to a regional location.
"I know they're very keen," Saunders said, while adding he hadn't spoken to either Mudgee or Dubbo council officially about the matter.
Both Apex Oval and Glen Willow are top-quality venues that teams love playing at.Dugald Saunders
"There's some good games and both Dubbo and Mudgee have shown they're capable of holding a top-level event like this at a top-quality venue.
"Both Apex Oval and Glen Willow are top-quality venues that teams love playing at so there's no issue there at all.
"The only scenario to work out is how we make it happen logistically with all the other staff."
Another option floated was the idea of something like a magic round, with one of the four games played each day at the same location from Thursday through to Sunday.
Saunders had no doubt something like that would work at a ground like Apex Oval as well.
"We're capable of doing it and the grounds are of such quality that we could do that. There would be disruptions to local action in some way shape or form but I'm sure we could work some way around it and make sure it happens safely.
"I'm sure the locals would love it and having more NRL in our region would be fantastic, so fingers crossed but there are the logistical things we have to work through."
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