The NRL has banned fans from the second round of matches and could consider other radical measures as it battles to come to grips with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the league.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg confirmed the spectator ban last night, saying the league would consider a range of options over the weekend - including a complete season shutdown - as the rapidly evolving coronavirus takes hold of world sport.

Australian media have also reported that all second round matches could be held at the same venue.

Greenberg's comments follow Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's banning of organised events with an audience of more than 500 people.


The first round of NRL matches are expected to go ahead as planned with the Warriors taking on the Newcastle Knights in their season-opener Downunder on Saturday.

In a media conference, Greenberg said the NRL would be guided on a way forward by the Australian government.

"We've listened to the authorities who are in a far better position than we are. If the government gave us advice today to close the stadiums down we would have. The measures they're putting together are precautionary measures," Greenberg said.

"We're going to do everything we can to protect players from the disease. If that means a club can't play a game in the competition or be stood down for the round we'll do that."

Greenberg said the league was expecting the ban to have a significant financial impact on clubs but pledged his support.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. Photo / Getty Images
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg. Photo / Getty Images

"It's going to have significant financial impacts on all 16 clubs and the game. We're in unprecedented times. If they're in financial difficulty we'll keep them afloat. We'll get through this together.

"We're going to work through the next week and work out the impact for clubs. These are significants amounts of money for clubs over the course of the year.

"All 16 clubs are in the same position and listening to the same advice and getting into an alignment for this weekend's games," he said.


"If something changes we'll pivot and assess it accordingly. The good part about State of Origin is it doesn't start for a couple of months. Hopefully it changes. If we make changes now we might get the benefit of that in a month's time."

The decision to ban spectators from attending games could have interesting consequences for the Warriors - with Stephen Kearney's team set to take on the Canberra Raiders at Eden Park next Saturday in the first match of a cross-code 'double header' with the Blues facing the Brumbies immediately after.

Sanzaar announced yesterday that this weekend's round f Super Rugby fixtures would go ahead as planned, with only the clash between the Highlanders and Jaguares in Buenos Aires to be played behind closed doors.

Rugby bosses were expected to be locked in meetings last night to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on all future Super Rugby matches in New Zealand, following the cancellation or postponement of major events in the country, including Auckland's Pasifika Festival and surfing contest Piha Pro.

NZ Rugby chair Brent Impey told BusinessDesk that no domestic games are cancelled at this stage, but said the four heads of the Sanzaar countries would meet "to secure further updates".