The seven Melbourne players selected for next week’s match won’t compete, after Victoria returned to lockdown.

Victoria’s return to lockdown has scratched the seven Melbourne Storm players selected for the NRL All Stars match next Saturday.

The NRL had been trying desperately to arrange flights for the Storm players out of Melbourne tonight, but the state’s plunge into a five-day, stage-four lockdown and the return of border closures have made that task impossible.

Indigenous flyer Josh Addo-Carr and the Maori squad’s Reimis Smith, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich, Brandon Smith and Nelson Asofa-Solomona had all been in line to feature in the exhibition match.

Josh Addo-Carr

But the NRL is now set to draft seven replacement players over the weekend, before the two men’s teams meet in camp on Monday.

The NRL’s hopes to secure travel exemptions into Queensland fell through when acting Queensland premier Steven Miles announced the state’s borders would close at 1am tomorrow to anyone who had been in the greater Melbourne area in the last 14 days.

Victoria’s five-day “short, sharp circuit-breaker”, as described by Victoria premier Dan Andrews, was introduced in response to 13 COVID-19 cases being traced to a quarantine hotel.

The lockdown is an attempt to smother an outbreak of the UK strain of coronavirus linked to Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn.

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