The partners and children of NRL players have landed in Queensland after being given special permission to leave Covid-stricken Sydney and spend two weeks in quarantine at a luxury resort on the Gold Coast.
The league was forced to relocate its 16 teams to three Queensland bubbles last week to escape growing Covid outbreaks in NSW and Victoria, with separate hubs on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast.
Nearly 500 family members in Sydney will be staying at the Novotel hotel in Surfers Paradise for the next 14 days before joining their NRL star partners in their respective hubs.
Alyce Taylor, Jack de Belin’s partner, and Ashleigh, Tariq Sims’ model wife, were leading the WAG arrivals Wednesday morning when they were seen on the tarmac carrying luggage with their children.
Benji Marshall and wife Zoe landed later Wednesday afternoon with their newborn daughter Ever and son Fox.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs star chose to stay in Sydney with his wife after the birth of their second child last month. The couple will have adjoining rooms on the top floor of the hotel, away from the other families.
The league’s move to Queensland will cost more than $12 million a month, and WAGs were not allowed to fly in from Sydney until the NRL sent out detailed applications for each individual.
Soccer star wives and girlfriends have arrived in Queensland before going into quarantine before joining their partners in their respective bubbles (photo Tariq Sims’ wife Ashleigh and daughter)
Among those preparing to settle in their new hotel at the Novotel Surfers Paradise was Jack De Belin’s partner Alyce Taylor (pictured)
Dozens of other women, girlfriends and their children arrived at the Novotel on Wednesday morning, where they will “isolate” rather than quarantine for the next 14 days
Jack De Belin’s girlfriend, Alyce Taylor, arrives at the Coolangatta airport on Wednesday afternoon with their two young children
The family members reside on different levels of the Novotel hotel, defined by the regions of Sydney they come from.
Families from the South West of Sydney will be segregated from families from the East and West, given the restrictions imposed on certain local government areas.
The wives, girlfriends and children are not allowed to use the pool and there are three different dining rooms for the three groups – which can only be used at different times.
Daily Mail Australia understands that some families have movers on standby in the event that the competition is likely to be permanently relocated to Queensland, where they will be in their new bubble for two to three months.
They are subject to Queensland Health’s Covid testing, which means state authorities will handle all positive cases rather than the NRL.
The women and children are believed to be split into the same groups as their NRL player partners, who will be based in the three hotels in south east Queensland.
After completing their quarantine, they can join them in their teams’ NRL hub.
South Sydney Rabbitohs star Benji Marshall (left) and wife Zoe (right) arrived later Wednesday afternoon. Marshall chose not to fly to Sydney with his teammates last week so he could be with his newborn daughter (pictured)
The Marshalls and their two young children have adjoining rooms on the top floor of the hotel, away from the other families
The wives, girlfriends and children spend two weeks at the Novotel Surfers Paradise before joining their partners in their respective Queensland bubbles
Families from the South West of Sydney are separated from families from the East and West, given the restrictions imposed on certain local government areas
The 500-odd group of women and children only found out Monday night that they would be joining their partners after NRL CEO Andrew Abdo sent a letter confirming the news.
“Thank you for your patience over the past few days,” Abdo wrote in the letter obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I am pleased to inform you that, as promised, we will soon be able to reunite you with your family in Queensland. The Queensland Government has this evening approved our application to move families from Sydney to the Gold Coast.
“When you arrive on the Gold Coast, you’ll begin your 14-day quarantine at an NRL-operated Family Hub in Surfers Paradise before being reunited with your partners at club hotels. The majority of families will be free to move around the resort and use the facilities while you are in quarantine.
“Families located in the three Local Government Areas, which are currently under NSW Public Health orders not to leave, are also allowed to travel. As I explained to you on a phone call earlier this evening, you are in a separate area of the hotel to minimize the risk to the wider group.
“I would like to thank you all for the patience you have shown as our team worked closely with the Queensland and NSW governments to approve the necessary exemptions.
“We promised all players and families that you would be reunited and we are happy to deliver on that promise.
“We have a responsibility to ensure we keep the Queensland community safe and healthy. My team will contact you directly within the next 24 hours to make sure you clearly understand the conditions and protocols we need to adhere to. Thank you for being so available today for COVID-19 testing.
“The sacrifices you make to keep the league going are not lost on the Australian Rugby League Commission, or on me. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
“We will do everything we can to make this move as comfortable as possible for you and your children and we will arrange some extra support for you during the 14 days.”
The wives, girlfriends and children are not allowed to use the pool and there are three different dining rooms for the three groups – which can only be used at different times
Some families have movers on standby in case the league is moved permanently to Queensland, where they will be in their new bubble for two to three months
The Warriors, Eels, Rabbitohs, Raiders and Bulldogs are all based in the Mercure Hotel on the Gold Coast.
The Panthers, Roosters, Knights and Sea Eagles reside at the Novotel Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast.
Novotel Southbank in Brisbane hosts the Sharks, Dragons and Tigers.
The NRL originally planned to fly the families upstairs this weekend, only for Queensland Government officials to ask for more details before granting waivers.
That led to some nervous days for anxious players and their partners, as well as behind-the-scenes scrambling by NRL and club staff.
An NRL star’s partner and their three children land on the Gold Coast on Wednesday afternoon
Masks on: The WAGs must quarantine at the Novotel hotel for 14 days before joining their partners