Melbourne could become the Sunshine Coast Storm
The speed of which Victoria can flatten the COVID-19 curve will determine just how long the Melbourne Storm will be forced to call the Sunshine Coast home.
The entire Melbourne Storm travelling bubble of 55 players and staff will move into Queensland from today in a bid to avoid a worrying spike of 41 confirmed new coronavirus cases in Victoria.
The Queensland Government has granted the club an exemption which allows the players and staff, who have been following strict COVID-19 protocols, to relocate to Queensland.
The initial plan is for the Storm to be based at Maroochydore's Twin Waters Resort for the next two weeks.
But that could easily be extended beyond the halfway point of the season if the rate of infection fails to fall in Victoria.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Melbourne's home game against the Sydney Roosters which was scheduled to be played at AAMI Park will now be played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Thursday night.
Storm family members - who will also be tested - will join the team on the Sunshine Coast today but will need to undergo strict protocols before they can mix with the players.
"They have to be tested and have to be in 14-day isolation in Queensland," Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen told ABC Grandstand.
"They are pretty strict measures. People would rather have that than be away from them.''
Storm CEO Dave Donaghy confirmed the initial Sunshine Coast camp would be for a two-week period, with the ultimate goal of bringing the squad back to Melbourne when it is safe to do so.
"Sunshine Coast is the best option available to us in the circumstances we face at the moment and we would like to thank the Queensland Government for its assistance in making this relocation possible," Donaghy said.
While in Queensland, the Storm will comply with the requirements set by the NRL and State Government to minimise the risks to our football bubble and the wider community.
Meanwhile, Melbourne captain Cameron Smith could wear the No.7 jumper for the first time in over a decade following a knee injury to star five-eighth Cameron Munster.
Munster suffered a suspected medial ligament injury in Friday's 50-6 rout of the Warriors in Sydney and was having scans yesterday.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy fears being without Munster for up to six weeks.
Smith will be one of the options to play in the halves after filling in at halfback in the second half, with Brandon Smith at hooker.
"It's an option without a doubt. Whether that's the best option for us or not, we'll have to have a bit of a chat about that and work it out," Bellamy said.
"I thought Cameron done a pretty good job there as well.
"Brandon's obviously a class dummy-half. He's the Kiwi dummy-half. That certainly is an option for us, but there's a couple of other options as well."
Originally published as Melbourne could become the Sunshine Coast Storm