Newcastle will play home matches at Central Coast Stadium after the Australian Rugby League Commission approved the first phase of a venue strategy ahead of the NRL’s resumption next week.
Six venues – Bankwest Stadium, Campbelltown Stadium, Central Coast Stadium, Suncorp Stadium, QCB Stadium and AAMI Park – will be used during phase one when the competition resumes on Thursday 28 May.
The venues were selected on a range of factors, including those best equipped to meet the NRL’s strict biosecurity protocols which have been formulated to keep players, staff and the general community healthy.
Other factors included geographic location, rectangular rather than oval stadiums and commercial considerations.
NRL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Abdo, said the strategy was designed to ensure all venues provided the safest possible environment for players and staff.
“The competition will begin with a consolidated approach to venues,” he said.
“Each venue requires customised infrastructure to meet our strict biosecurity requirements. We’ve adopted a phased approach for venues should restrictions be eased in the future.
“We’ve chosen three consolidated venues for clubs in and around Sydney to ensure there are no double headers at venues and in different parts of the region to meet the geographical challenges we face.”
The six venues will be used for at least rounds three to nine before a review is conducted.
The official draw, which will be released on Thursday, will allocate venues until round nine of the competition but will not allocate venues for matches in round 10 and beyond.
The NRL has already announced the first two rounds of the season’s resumption, with Newcastle set to face sides who are also yet to lose a game this year.
The Knights will tackle sixth-placed Penrith away on Sunday 31 May, before heading to Campbelltown Stadium to take on Canberra, in third, on Sunday 7 June. Both games are due to kick off at 4.05pm.
Newcastle started the season in blistering form, with a 20-0 win over New Zealand followed by a 42-24 thumping of Wests Tigers.
The two big wins left the Knights in second spot, behind Parramatta, when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Venues for rounds three to nine:
Bankwest Stadium – Parramatta Eels, Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Cronulla Sharks, Sydney Roosters
Campbelltown Stadium – St George Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers, Canberra Raiders
Central Coast Stadium – Newcastle Knights, New Zealand Warriors, Manly Sea Eagles
Suncorp Stadium – Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans
QCB Stadium – North Queensland Cowboys
AAMI Park – Melbourne Storm