NBL to allow COVID-19 replacement players

NBL clubs will be able to replace players and, in extreme circumstances, request for games to be postponed as part of a new COVID-19 policy.

The season is due to tip-off in Hobart on Friday, the build-up muddied by several fixture delays and cancellations due to positive tests and border restrictions.

The New Zealand Breakers have been hardest hit, with a number of players as well as coach Dan Shamir and CEO Matt Walsh testing positive to the virus since arriving in Australia, where they will be based until at least 2022.

While obligated to suit up for their season opener against South East Melbourne on Saturday, with or without their coach, the NBL has allowed for some reprieve in a new COVID-19 replacement policy announced on Wednesday.

The policy allows clubs to replace a player if they're unavailable for selection due to COVID-19 protocols.

The replacement, who can play for multiple teams during the season, will be contracted on a game-by-game basis and must be released once the player they're replacing is cleared to return.

The rule is in addition to the injury replacement rule, however, a contracted injury replacement player may be selected as the COVID-19 replacement player.

A team must engage a COVID-19 replacement player if they have less than eight active players available for a game.

However, if "after exhausting all reasonable options" a team is unable to field eight active players for a game they may request to have the game postponed.

The ruling will help avoid scenarios in the NBA this season, when the COVID-19 ravaged Philadelphia 76ers used just seven players in one game.