Two Canberra Raiders players have tested positive to COVID-19 as the virus strikes the NRL club's playing ranks.
The Canberra Times can reveal two members of the Raiders' top 30 playing squad have contracted the virus, becoming at least the third and fourth cases attached to the club.
Raiders officials were seeking results to further testing among their playing group and football staff this week.
Canberra's pre-Christmas training block ended a week early when players and staff were sent into isolation after a member of the club's football department was believed to have picked up the virus in Newcastle.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says the playing group will return to club headquarters in Braddon for pre-season training on January 5, with players and staff to continue to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
"With this scenario of COVID, there's going to be disruptions that occur out of the blue. We just have to handle it," Stuart said.
"The big thing is we've just got to try and make sure once we're out of lockdown, we have a good commitment to looking after ourselves over the break and not wasting the work we've put in over the past six weeks of training.
"We looked at training the boys right up until Christmas, we looked at all different scenarios and we thought 'you know what, we've probably missed a session and a half of conditioning going into the break'.
"We thought we wouldn't change anything now, we'll keep it all as is. We'll just come back on January 5 and continue what we've started."
Raiders officials are in constant contact with ACT Health for advice on how to best navigate the outbreak.
The two players to have tested positive follow two members of the club's football staff.
Those who came in contact with the second positive case will be required to isolate until at least Wednesday, pending a second negative test result.
Canberra is not the only club to have the virus infiltrate its walls throughout pre-season with South Sydney and Newcastle's programs already been disrupted.
Now plans are afoot for players across the entire code to undergo rapid testing up to six times per week from the moment they return to training in the new year.
The entire sporting landscape will have to deal with the effects of the ongoing pandemic throughout the 2022 season, with NRL clubs encouraging players to get vaccinated.
The virus has already struck a handful of Canberra's sporting teams, with the Canberra Capitals' round two WNBL clash postponed following a positive case within the club's ranks, while the ACT Meteors' WNCL schedule was revamped following a positive test from a development player. The entire ACT Brumbies Super Rugby roster is vaccinated.
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