'No emotion' as fans face NRL lockout

NRL boss Todd Greenberg has said the code's decision to wait until round two to lock out fans is not a sentimental nod to Townsville's stadium opening on Friday night but a simple case of following advice.

Games will be played in empty stadiums indefinitely from round two and Greenberg admitted these were "unprecedented times" as he vowed to financially support teams that are significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the NRL on Friday afternoon cleared Canberra and North Queensland to host their round-one games against Gold Coast and Brisbane respectively, much to the relief of Cowboys fans who have been anticipating the opening of the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

In Townsville for the game, Greenberg said no emotion came into the decision and that it was in line with the federal government's announcement advising against gatherings of 500 people or more at non-essential organised events from Monday.

That is despite the NBL and AFLW shutting their doors this weekend and Friday's ODI between Australia and New Zealand being played without spectators at the SCG.

"If the government had given us advice today to close the stadiums down we would've done that," Greenberg said.

"We've listened to the authorities that know much, much more about this than I do, and their advice to us is that through the weekend and right through to Sunday that we're OK to have fans at our games and that's what we'll do."

Concerns over COVID-19 have intensified over the past few days, with two Cronulla players isolated on Friday after reporting flu-like symptoms.

One has been tested as a precaution, however the pair are considered "low risk" with a club statement claiming there is no suggestion they have contracted the virus.

Greenberg said individual planning was underway with the New Zealand Warriors - due to kick-off their campaign at the Knights on Saturday - considering the government's advice that all non-essential travel be reconsidered, while he said the NRL would support clubs hit financially by the measures.

"We're in this together. We're in unprecedented times but the game will be right behind our 16 clubs," he said.

"We'll leave no-one behind; if there's financial difficulties we'll make sure we keep them afloat."

Before the season's Thursday kick-off, the NRL issued a health and safety advisory for players and staff.

Players were asked to minimise handshakes and physical interactions with fans, while clubs were encouraged to minimise player contact with community organisations.

Restrictions were also placed on dressing-room entry.