Newcastle Netball has decided — "with a heavy heart" — to delay the late 2020 season start date by another seven days.

Newcastle Netball has officially decided to defer the start of the 2020 season, including the new-look Greater Club Series, by seven days. The executive board has announced all NNA competitions now have a new restart date of Saturday, August 1.

“Recognising the evolving situation in the Hunter area, the NNA executive have decided — with a heavy heart — to defer the start of the season by one week,” the association wrote in an update on Facebook. “Games will now start on August 1.”

NNA’s last-second delay decision comes after a new COVID-19 flare-up in the Hunter over the past week. An adult was admitted to John Hunter Hospital on Thursday, as the number of confirmed active cases in the region ticked up to eight.

The AFL community was handed a scare mid-week as well, after it was confirmed a young player, under 10, played a match for the Nelson Bay Blue Marlins in the under-9s league against Newcastle City Blues on Sunday, July 19.

AFL Hunter Central Coast issued a warning to all junior clubs on Wednesday regarding the situation, warning any teammates with “suspicious symptoms” in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic would be required to isolate for 14 days.

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Following that scare, Newcastle Netball reassessed their 2020 return date. The association wrote, “We have come so far. All the infrastructure is all in place for a successful return to play, but the environment is, once again, changing.”

Newcastle Netball executives are predicting “more than 6,000” players and fans will be at National Park for a duration of time across the opening round of play.

NNA revealed they were expecting more than 6,000 members and family supporters to be at National Park courts across the opening weekend of play. Following the State Government’s ‘high alert announcement, however, the association felt it was more important to “put the health and safety of our members and the community first.”

“This decision has not been easy. We have waited this long – hopefully, one more week will allow us to ascertain that it is indeed safe to proceed,” the association concluded.

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Newcastle Netball executives will be meeting with club representatives this Saturday to plan a new course of return for the 2020 season. The association has requested all inquires regarding the return to play be directed to clubs “for the time being.”

Coronavirus protocols have also proven too difficult for Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union this week, with officials opting to cancel the planned men’s Rams Cup replacement competition this season instead of hosting a shortened season.

NHRU’s proposed women’s 10s league will still go ahead, for now. Merewether Carlton, Nelson Bay, Hamilton, Maitland, Medowie, The Waratahs, and Wanderers are all expected to field a team in the new-look NHRU Rams Women’s competition.