Rugby Australia is set to include Canberra Stadium in its plans to launch a domestic Super Rugby competition despite the NRL's refusal to allow games to be played in the capital.
The Canberra Times understands rugby officials are working towards a home-and-away fixture list, which would all teams to play at their preferred venue when the season begins.
The ACT Brumbies are set to start training in groups of 20 next week before progressing to contact work and eventually games in July.
They also get an unexpected signing boost after disgruntled Queensland Reds lock Izack Rodda quit his contract on Friday after falling out with officials and refusing to take a pay cut.
Rodda, one of only three players to refuse the wage reduction, is reportedly keen to move to Canberra for the next phase of his career, but the Brumbies are adamant there has been no contact with the Wallabies second-rower.
Rodda's potential Canberra link would be another boost to an already strong forward pack as the Brumbies aim to win whatever title is up for grabs this year.
They will likely get the chance to do so at home, starting talks with ACT government and stadium bosses this week about the logistics required to implement coronavirus measures when using the stadium.
Rugby Australia is yet to announce its return to play biosecurity plan or a competition structure, but it's understood most teams will get to play at home. The Western Force may have to move to Sydney because of Western Australia border restrictions.
The Brumbies won 10 games in a row in Canberra before their streak ended earlier this year, and staying at home would help their title quests.
But the NRL is refusing to give the Canberra Raiders the same rights, despite the city recording an 18th consecutive day of no new recorded coronavirus cases on Friday.
The Raiders will instead be forced to play "home" matches at Campbelltown for at least the first two months of the resumed season, which starts next weekend. The Raiders will use charter flights and buses to travel to games, but they will still have the longest travel time of any team to home games.
Coach Ricky Stuart fears they will face an entire season on the road. "[We're] obviously hoping, but the planets aren't really aligning at the moment in regards to having home games back in Canberra this season," Stuart said. "I just hope after round 10 we can lift the restrictions from a community point of view and where we're at with the protocols from an NRL point. Hopefully we may get some games back at [Canberra Stadium], but I'm not confident to be honest."
Crowds won't be able to attend games in Canberra for the foreseeable future, while broadcasters will decide if the cost of having to move equipment for Brumbies home games is viable.
The Raiders and the Brumbies have contracts with the government to play all home games in Canberra, but a force majeure clause allows changes as per unforeseen circumstances.
The Brumbies would need to work with the stadium to implement biosecurity measures, as well as negotiating the hiring costs given the club will not be able to generate revenue without crowds.
Brumbies boss Phil Thomson said: "We're working towards playing in Canberra with Rugby Australia and [the stadium]. We'll work through the protocols with the stadium to make sure the venue is safe for everyone."
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