Titans CEO Steve Mitchell spoke to the media about the Club's round four fixture against the Canberra Raiders being moved to Sydney in light of the COVID situation in Queensland.
Q: You seemed pretty hopeful earlier in the day, what was the proverbial nail on the head?
A: I think it was more the NRL and to their credit if you have look at what we've been through over the last 12 months, they made a decision to make sure we wouldn't have any interruptions this weekend and the best course of action was to move us to Sydney to play at Kogarah to make sure that we're there in case there is any escalation of things locally. We support that, we appreciate what they've done for us to date, we're excited about where we are at and we're happy to manage through this process with them.
Q: What have they (NRL) said about staying there, obviously the situation could continue past this round?
A: They've been really good. They've said that their intent is to get us home as quickly as they can after this weeks game but that will be on the grounds of how the local situation goes over the next few days and Queensland Health's work and the CHO's (Chief Health Officer) work and how they go with testing rates and any potential further infection rates. We're hopeful of being back early in the week to get ready for the Knights but as with these things we manage as we go and we watch the data as it comes in.
Q: How many players will go down?
A: We are taking the top 30. We are taking our player group, our coaching staff and a lot of the football support staff as well so there is quite a group going down.
Q: It probably couldn't have come at a worse time for the Club after two fantastic wins over Queensland sides. How much of a blow is this in terms of fans wanting to come along?
A: Some things you can't control and this is one of those things. If you flip it and have a look at it, there is no doubt that Justin was looking forward to a stadium that had a growing body of supporters, fans and members and corporates in front of our team that are getting very loud against Canberra but I think this an opportunity too to galvanise our group. We've had some wonderful messaging coming in in regard to the fact that we're moving down south, I think we will have plenty of supporters at home watching TV, if you're a Member or a supporter down there or anywhere near there and you want to get to the game, you want to get to Kograh, you can buy tickets there. We are going to take some corporates with us. We want to make sure the boys know that we're there, there's no doubt Justin wanted a home crowd and the support locally has been sensational and he was banking on that a bit but he also knows that there are some things you can't control. We are going down there to play Canberra and he is going down there to win that game. If you're a Member or a fan in Sydney or around Sydney, we'd love to have you at the game.
Q: What's been the reaction from players, especially those that might have to leave behind young families?
A: I think to a degree we've been through it before. They went through a whole year of it last year so they're nimble in their ability to adjust and get down. Given it is basically a short turnaround and a short stay just to make sure we navigate this period of time, they're positive. They're very excited about what they're doing as a group, how the football team is going and how they're responding. The bond between that group is super strong. They're excited about the ability to play this weekend so morale is high.
Q: Is it just a commercial flight or charter?
Q: Is it basically that they get that flight and get down to Sydney and then can't go out and mix or anything like that? Do you know what the restrictions are?
A: No restrictions at this stage, so they'll go down to Sydney and they'll go to where they are staying and then they'll commence training for the week.
Q: We saw the (Gold Coast) Suns depart a day earlier and they took families as well, they're certainly expecting a good couple of weeks on the round. If the situation deteriorates in Greater Brisbane and Gold Coast, is there the potential that the NRL would look at the style of hub where families could join the players?
A: I think all things are being considered. We are in close contact with the player's partners and their families and we will give them as much information as we can. It was a decision that was made not long ago so we are still building out a lot of that and I think if it was a long period of time then that is something that would be taken into consideration.
Q: Financially, will you take a bit of a hit? You've got two home games (coming up).
A: There's no doubt that it does have a commercial impact on you going through that but the NRL is very supportive. They've been fabulous in the way that they're engaging with us so they will support us through that. This is about getting the code through and making sure our competition is still being played and we don't miss anything out of the draw and that we navigate all risk so they'll lend some support to us there and we'll get through that. The Club is in good shape at the moment and we did have really good crowds building and I have no doubt we will have good crowds building when we get home but it is something that we can't control and something that we've got to manage for what it is at the moment. I was saying to someone this morning that it's a lot better to be doing this from fourth on the ladder than the bottom of the ladder so if you look at the opportunity of what we've got in front of us, we've just got to adjust and get stuck into this weekend and review early in the week and go again.
Q: The team was in limbo waiting for a verdict from the NRL, has it impacted the training schedule?
A: Just a little bit of disruption this afternoon because of travel but not hugely. They'll redo the schedule when they get to Sydney and they'll complete what they do normally.
Q: The word out of Brisbane was they were told to prepare for two weeks but it might be possibly longer, is that the same for you guys?
A: The commentary was be prepared for a couple of weeks just in case. The intent is just this weekend but be prepared for a couple of weeks.
Q: Are there any plans to do any community work during the week?
A: Not at the moment. Given we are just putting the logistics and planning in place at the moment we haven't looked at community engagement work yet. It doesn't mean it won't happen but we're just getting the detail in the right place to make sure we can get to the game and get our training done.
Q: The Brisbane fellas have come from the hotspots and they're essentially locked down into their rooms when they're not training. Is it different for you guys considering you're coming essentially from somewhere that's not those areas?
A: We'll go into our training schedule and we don't have the same restrictions on us. The guys will go into their accommodation and it'll be close to the training field and we don't need to run the same clean zone protocols which is fortunate for us.
Q: So you will physically be staying in Kogarah?
A: I think we will end up staying in Homebush and we will train there for the few days running up to the game and then we will commute into Kogarah because of the facilities obviously.
Q: Any other comments?
A: It'd be great to have supporters down there. If you are in and around that game, given we had a huge supporter base up in Townsville against the Cows last week and they made a difference, the boys are enjoying playing for the supporter base because they're loud and they want to make them proud.
We are going to have to try and make Kogarah a home oval, so whoever we can get along they will be well welcomed.