A NSW Rugby League edict that clubs must train for at least two weeks before returning to the field has scuttled Group Three's bid to resume the competition the weekend of September 18 and 19.
Even if this area comes out of lockdown on Friday, September 10, as initially stated by the State government, teams won't have the necessary time to prepare for semi-finals the following weekend.
Group Three chief executive Mal Drury contacted the NSWRL earlier this week for clarification on the ruling. He pointed out that if the lockdown ends on Friday it would be possible for clubs to get at least three training sessions in before playing on September 18 and 19.
However, he said the league would not grant exemptions.
The group was initially reluctant to extend the season by a week to avoid playing on the long weekend. However, Mr Drury said the latest ruling could change that thinking.
"If we finish lockdown on September 10, it would give the teams a fortnight to train before elimination semi-finals on September 25 and 26,'' he pointed out.
"We could then play the grand final on the long weekend.''
Mr Drury said the match would probably be played on the Sunday, although the final decision would be up to the management committee. He said the program would be completed well before the kickoff of the NRL grand final that evening.
However, he added that any plans are dependent on the lockdown ending. He doesn't believe that playing into October would be a real option.
The last game played in Group Three was on Saturday, August 14 when Taree City hosted Wingham, the match ending just before the 5pm lockdown deadline.
Neither Taree City or Wingham will be playing in the first grade semi-finals. Some minor grades were completed at Wauchope that day when Port Macquarie tackled Old Bar although the first grade didn't go ahead.
Old Bar hasn't played a first grade match since Saturday, July 31.
Mr Drury said the clubs have stated they're prefer to play some type of finals series, but time will be the final arbiter.
"We're on a bit of a roundabout at the moment with these COVID regulations,'' Mr Drury said.
"Until we get a firm decision on when the lockdown will end, we really can't do too much.''