AFL, NRL games in QLD postponed due to COVID

The AFL fixture is again in disarray, with three matches postponed and several clubs fleeing Queensland because of the state's coronavirus lockdown.

Saturday's Gold Coast-Melbourne and Essendon-Sydney fixtures have been affected, as has Sunday's GWS-Port Adelaide contest.

AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said the league is working through its options with how to fit those games into the future schedule.

"The evolving COVID situation in Queensland has seen the state announce a three-day lockdown and, as a result, we have had to postpone three games scheduled to be played in Queensland in round 20," Auld said.

"These games will be rescheduled to be played at a time to be confirmed.

"While the pandemic will continue to challenge us, the health and safety of those in our game and the wider community remains paramount."

Queensland's lockdown begins at 4pm on Saturday, with the government ruling out all professional sport.

"There will be no football matches," Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young said.

"No community sport, no professional sport, nothing for the next three days."

Melbourne players were on a flight to the Gold Coast on Saturday morning when the south-east Queensland lockdown was announced.

The AFL confirmed the charter flight will now return to Melbourne later on Saturday.

GWS, Sydney and Essendon have been operating out of temporary bases in Queensland but the Giants and Essendon are due to fly from the Gold Coast to Melbourne together on Saturday afternoon, while Sydney and the Suns are expected to follow suit.

GWS heading to Melbourne could see them play Port Adelaide, who are currently based in Melbourne, in Victoria on Sunday.

The MCG, Marvel Stadium and GMHBA Stadium are currently all available on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the NRL has had a major breakthrough with Queensland Health clearing it to resume play with a triple-header at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

Less than 12 hours after being forced to postpone Saturday's three matches due to a lockdown in south-east Queensland lockdown, the NRL was given the green light to continue.

Saturday's games will now go ahead on Sunday, before a double-header at the same ground on Monday night for the games originally scheduled for Sunday.

It comes after the league put forward a plan to Queensland Health to resume, with all players under stringent restrictions.

Players will be tested daily for COVID-19, while there will be compulsory staff for all players and officials not playing as well as reduced personnel at games.

"Our games will be played under the toughest protocols since the competition resumed on May 28 last year," NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"These protocols further minimise the risk of community infection.

"We've proven over the last two years that we can play safely and the additional measures agreed to tonight will further enhance that."

Under the changes, Penrith and Melbourne will now be the 4pm Sunday game broadcast on the Nine Network and Fox, while Newcastle face Canberra at 1:50pm and St George Illawarra clash with South Sydney at 6:25pm.

Canterbury will then face Gold Coast at 6pm on Monday night, before Cronulla and Manly clash at 8:05pm.

Crowds will be banned at all matches.

Crucially, the NRL is confident that even if the Queensland lockdown extends beyond Tuesday in the south-east, it will be able to continue the season.

AAP understands talks have already began with the state government on being able to play with no crowds in the Brisbane region.

Moving into other regions is also an option, with officials at Townsville's Queensland Country Bank Stadium putting their hands up to host matches.

Victoria or even regional NSW could represent other options, with brief discussions held with the former on Saturday.

Challenges would, however, remain with players' families remaining in quarantine on the Gold Coast, potentially creating issues if the competition is shifted elsewhere.

"Every option is on the table," V'landys said.

Officials had been caught off guard when Queensland Health announced a ban on professional sport on Saturday, expecting only a lock down.

That shocked players and staff, with South Sydney already on a plane to Rockhampton to face St George Illawarra while other players were stuck in their hotels.

If further issues arise the NRL does have room to move in its schedule if games have to be pushed back or the competition is suspended, with the end-of-year World Cup unlikely to proceed.

NRL round 20 games on Sunday (all times AEST)

1.50pm: Knights v Raiders

4.05pm: Storm v Panthers

6.25pm: Dragons v Rabbitohs

NRL round 20 games on Monday

6pm: Bulldogs v Titans

8.05pm: Sharks v Sea Eagles