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NSWRL competitions suspended as all community league on hold

Major competitions in NSW have been suspended until at least May 31 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

NSWRL CEO Dave Trodden confirmed the state will follow Queensland Rugby League's announcement on Tuesday night and postpone all junior and senior competitions, from Harold Matthews to Canterbury Cup, effective immediately.

NSWRL's 13 major competitions, most of which started last weekend, includes the Canterbury Cup NSW which act as feeder sides to NRL clubs, and the Harvey Norman Women's competition.

"Above all else, our priority is to protect the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and supporters, as well as the broader community," Trodden said.

"The NSWRL will continue to actively monitor the situation and is committed to making decisions in relation to COVID-19 and its impact on rugby league activity based on the advice from the Federal Government and other medical experts."

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Trodden confirmed the Warriors Canterbury Cup side, who have been largely affected by the pandemic with travel restrictions in place, won't take part in the competition if it resumes in June.

"I have discussed this decision with the Warriors CEO Cameron George and he supports the decision," Trodden said.

"Beyond that, we haven't decided anything with regards to the other suspended competitions."

Canterbury coach Dean Pay told a media pack on Wednesday the decisions will present a number of challenges for all clubs. 

For those not in the NRL top 30 squads, the ban could have ramifications on their development.

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"Some of those boys, I feel sorry for them because they're not going to get their fix of footy every weekend," Pay said.

"That's another challenge we'll have to take on. The amount of training they're going to have to do to keep themselves fit and motivated is going to be a challenge for them."

The announcement is also a major blow for the women's game ahead of State of Origin on June 19 with the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership acting as a major selection process for NSW coach Andrew Patmore.

A women's City-Country match was also scheduled for mid-May, while the National Championships was expected to go ahead a week later. 

Likewise, the under 16s and under 18s interstate clashes are also in jeopardy with no pathway available. 

The NRL, in partnership with state governing bodies, has postponed all community rugby league in Australia until at least the first weekend of May. 

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The postponement includes all junior and senior community club rugby league competitions, training, gala days and future League Stars programs.

New Zealand Rugby League has also done similar, suspending all programs until May 2.

NRL Head of Football – Participation, Pathways and Game Development, Luke Ellis said there was wide consultation before making the decision to postpone all community-related programs.

"The decision to pause community rugby League in Australia was not taken lightly and is simply about the NRL and state governing bodies, as custodians of rugby league, putting extra-conservative measures in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and wellbeing of our participants," Ellis said.

The later date will allow teams to train and prepare earlier in May if community rugby league is cleared to resume.

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