Resort boss reveals his NRL rescue plan

Roger Federer spent time on Tangalooma Island in 2015, could NRL players base there later in 2020?
Roger Federer spent time on Tangalooma Island in 2015, could NRL players base there later in 2020?

Hold the phone despairing NRL fans, the season may not be lost - and it could even resume sooner rather than later.

The ambitious manager of the Queensland resort offering to house all 16 teams during the coronavirus pandemic has outlined just how he believes the league could pull it off.

And, pending government approvals from Australia and New Zealand, David James' proposal looks somewhat plausible, even if Wayne Pearce, the head of the NRL innovation committee, remains skeptical as the code explores all options to save the suspended 2020 season.

James is adamant the Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, an hour from Brisbane, is fully equipped to accommodate the some 500 players and staff needed for the competition to play out.

"We can sleep about 1500 people," James told League Life on Fox Sports.

"The greatest thing is we can isolate the place. We can lock it down.

"We started talking about it a few weeks ago and we put together a plan logistically about how we can isolate players into the resort itself.

"We're off the coast of Brisbane and we want to go through a process with the NRL and the Queensland government - and the NSW government for that matter - whereby we're testing players before they come into an isolated, clean COVID-free environment.

"From there, we do the training and then we can ship them back into and out of Brisbane to the Gold Coast and to Redcliffe to play their games and then back into the isolated area.

"We've got a fleet of high-speed ferries and catamarans ... bus charters would be organised from our wharf in the mouth of the Brisbane River that would take people straight into the stadiums."

James accepts it's an audacious plan, but steadfastly believes the resort has the facilities to cope with the complex demands of an entire NRL player base.

"We've had a lot of sporting teams over the years coming over to Moreton Island and Tangalooma from rugby league, rugby union and cricket," he said.

Not to mention tennis great Roger Federer during the Brisbane International five years ago.

"We've got some great features - the waterways, the sand dunes," he said.

"Then we've got a 900-metre long, 60-metre wide grass air strip that we can repurpose for training fields and we've a lot of lawn areas and grass areas around the resort - probably another four areas along with the beach."

With the country in lockdown, James acknowledges ongoing safety measures would need to be put in place, and travel restrictions be lifted.

"Bus drivers, for example, would be tested all the way through," he said.

"Likewise our staff on the resort would also be tested and we've actually been in contact with one of the companies in Brisbane that are saying they are going to produce 500,000 15-minute COVID-19 tests by this Friday that the government will have access to."

James believes the concept could be huge for Australia's global exposure.

"(There's an) opportunity worldwide for getting the great game of rugby league out there in the American markets and advertising Queensland and Australia and saying 'look, we're a country that thinks differently'," he said.

"We know the big sporting events are all closed around the world, yet we're going to do it and we're going to do it safely in a secure, isolated location.

"So I think it's a terrific advertisement for Australian ingenuity."

Australian Associated Press