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Clubs to return to home grounds as restrictions eased

NRL clubs will be able to host games at their regular home grounds in two weeks' time as Canterbury explore the prospect of hosting up to 10,000 fans at ANZ Stadium to start next month.

The Australian Rugby League Commission also announced on Saturday that it would ease some of the strict biosecurity measures which were introduced in April to protect player and community health and safety.

"The Federal and State governments have provided support and guidance throughout this period and we have listened, and acted, according to their advice," ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys said.

"Allowing us to relax liveability restrictions for players and staff is another step forward for the game, and we will continue to progress change with respect to public health guidelines." 

The ARLC confirmed on Friday that from round eight teams can return to their traditional venues, starting with Melbourne's showdown with 2018 grand final opponents the Roosters at AAMI Park on July 2.

The Raiders will also be able to take their clash with the Dragons back to GIO Stadium the following day, with the ACT government approving a "pilot stadium program" for between 1000-2000 fans to attend games in July.

The Bulldogs-Rabbitohs clash is currently scheduled for Sunday, July 5 at Bankwest Stadium but may be able to draw a larger crowd as discussions around shifting the game to ANZ Stadium continue.

The NSW government has approved up to crowds of up to 10,000 to attend sporting events, provided it amounts to 25 per cent or less of a venue's capacity.

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ANZ Stadium and the SCG are the only NSW venues big enough to meet such a quota.

The latter could now host the Roosters mouth-watering grand final rematch with Canberra on Thursday, July 16, as the Sydney Swans AFL fixtures at the ground are only confirmed up until July 5.

But with ANZ Stadium's planned rebuild scrapped by the NSW Government, Canterbury and South Sydney have been exploring the possibility of shifting their round eight match to accommodate 2,500 more fans than would be allowed at Bankwest Stadium.

The Queensland government has announced up to 2000 fans will be permitted to attend the Titans-Dragons clash at Suncorp Stadium as it trials a return for crowds as well.

Elsewhere Newcastle and the Gold Coast can return to their respective home cities, while the likes of Manly (Brookvale), Penrith (Panthers Stadium), the Dragons (Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and WIN Stadium) and Cronulla (Netstrata Jubilee Stadium) are also able to return to their traditional venues.

The Warriors will remain based on the NSW Central Coast and play out of Gosford amid hopes that a "New Zealand-Australia bubble" will allow travel between the two countries, and the Kiwi club to return home, at some point this season.

"This is an outstanding outcome for our clubs, our players and importantly our fans who have been so loyal, and patient, throughout this crisis," ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said of the return to home grounds for NRL clubs.

"Our fans are everything and the opportunity to have them back in their home ground stands, is the greatest reward of all for their unwavering passion. I cannot wait to see and hear the return of that tribalism which makes rugby league so special.

"I also want to thank the State and Federal Governments for their ongoing assistance and to the Queensland government for allowing crowds of up to 2000, that’s a great result for Queensland fans."

The prospect of ANZ Stadium hosting NRL games next month comes as regular tenants Canterbury and South Sydney weigh up their long-term commitments at the Olympic venue.

The Rabbitohs this week sent out a survey to the club's 30,000-strong member base canvassing where they would like home games to be played from long-term.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour 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.