Cameron Smith called for the NRL to suspend the competition on Sunday, allowing time to assess the impact of coronavirus rather than reacting "daily or hourly" to the ever-changing situation.

Smith was part of the Melbourne Storm team that recorded an 18-4 triumph over Manly Sea Eagles in the opening round of the 2020 campaign.

However, the former Australia captain feels continuing to play is not the best course of action in the midst of the pandemic, given the amount of travel involved for the teams.

"If we make a decision to suspend the comp for a couple of weeks then I think it just gives everyone an opportunity to actually sum up the situation a little bit better rather than being reactive daily or hourly," Smith said in quotes appearing on the NRL's website.

"We want to be playing rugby league. We'd love to be playing. But this is a serious thing that's happening at the moment.

"I'm really confident with the measures we're taking as a club, particularly from our CEO Dave Donaghy and our doctor to minimise the risk around our organisation and anyone getting the virus or being around large crowds.

"This is a view of our entire team. Given our team travels a lot. We're travelling virtually every second week of the competition so we're going to be exposed to airports, air travel and large crowds a lot.

"Our players aren't concerned about themselves, they're concerned about their families and making this issue which is already global, making it much bigger than what it is in Australia at the moment."

All round two fixtures are to be staged behind closed doors after the federal government declared a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people due to COVID-19.

Smith is willing to carry on playing in empty stadiums for now, with Melbourne due to face Cronulla Sharks next Saturday in Sydney.

"Going into round two, there's no crowds so we're not going to be around large crowds. So I'm comfortable with where things are at the moment," Smith said.

"If I wasn't comfortable I wouldn't have come up this weekend and the rest of the players wouldn't have come up either. But this thing changes all the time."

Luciano Leilua enjoyed a winning return to WIN Stadium as he scored a game-breaking try to help Wests Tigers to a 24-14 victory over St George Illawarra Dragons on the NRL's opening weekend.

The hosts made a flying start when Mikaele Ravalawa was awarded a penalty try in the second minute – Corey Thompson shoving the Fijian to the floor as he was about to ground an in-goal kick at the end of a 70-metre run.

David Nofoaluma grabbed a clever kick from the inspired Benji Marshall, who booted eight points, to level matters but Zac Lomax went over and added his own extras to ensure the Dragons led 12-8 at the break.

Marshall added a try to his haul and resumed the role of provider for Leilua, seeing the Tigers hit the front before Nofoaluma made the win safe with his second of the match.

In the earlier game on Sunday, Melbourne Storm won 18-4 at Manly Sea Eagles.

Manly led 4-2 at the end of a gruelling first half, courtesy of two Reuben Garrick penalties to one from Cameron Smith.

However, Smith was on hand to convert a quick brace from Suliasi Vunivalu and Tom Eisenhuth was the beneficiary of his own grubber in the 74th minute as Melbourne shut out their opponents after the break.

Forthcoming NRL games are now set to be played behind closed doors in line with the Australian government’s precautions against COVID-19.

Josh Addo-Carr has reaffirmed that he will remain with Melbourne Storm for the 2020 NRL season.

The Australia winger was granted an early release from his contract after asking to return home to Sydney for family reasons.

Melbourne stated that they would allow Addo-Carr, who is contracted until 2021, to move on provided the Storm get "fair value" through a combination of a transfer fee, a player swap and salary cap relief.

But with speculation over the 24-year-old's immediate future rumbling on, Addo-Carr has vowed to stay put for a fourth and final campaign with Craig Bellamy's side before looking to head home 12 months before his contract ends.

"I've always been happy living in Melbourne but I wanted to move back to Sydney for family reasons, for my kids to grow up surrounded by the rest of my family." said the flyer.

"I love the club and I love the boys - I'm looking forward to the 2020 season and I believe we can go all the way."

He added: "Last year was a very successful year - it's not easy to make it to a prelim.

"We can win the premiership in 2020. We've put in the work, now it's just about believing we can get there and backing ourselves."

Addo-Carr is reportedly a target for several New South Wales clubs.

Melbourne Storm are exploring options to grant Josh Addo-Carr an early release from his contract on compassionate grounds.

The Storm said last month Addo-Carr, who has a contract that runs until the end of 2021, had reaffirmed his commitment to the team.

However, a change in the former Wests Tigers wing's family circumstances means he is keen to move back to Sydney.

Melbourne CEO Dave Donaghy stated they are looking at ways to let Addo-Carr go following the 2020 season but will be seeking "fair value" through a combination of a transfer fee, a player swap and salary cap relief.

"We believe this would be a fair outcome for all parties given the investment Storm has made in Josh and that we find ourselves on the cusp of the 2020 season," Donaghy wrote in a letter addressed to members.

"Most importantly, it would allow Josh's request to be met and we, and the game, would be able to continue to support him and his family in the transition back to Sydney."

Addo-Carr was linked with a return to the Tigers after they withdrew an offer to Latrell Mitchell.

Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu will switch to rugby union from 2021 after signing a two-year deal with the Reds.

Vunivalu, 24, played union as a teenager before being signed by the Storm, where he made his NRL debut in 2016.

The Fiji international has scored 72 tries in 94 NRL games for Melbourne, helping the Storm win the 2017 premiership.

Vunivalu will honour the final year of his contract with the Storm before joining the Reds in 2021, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

"The Storm has been wonderful to me, and I'm continuing to make great memories here," he said.

"However, the offer from rugby union was too good for me to refuse, especially considering I have a young family who I want to do the best for.

"I was a rugby union player before switching to league and always thought going back to rugby was an option for my career and I never wanted to play for another NRL club.

"I'd hate to have to go up against Storm and my mates. Now this decision is public, I'm concentrating 100 per cent on my final year in Melbourne and looking forward to doing the best I can for the boys, the coaches and all our members and fans.

"I won't be making any further comments on rugby until the NRL season is done."

Vunivalu was the top try-scorer in the NRL in 2016 and 2017, crossing 23 times in each campaign.

Reds head coach Brad Thorn was delighted with the signing of the wing.

"As a group we look forward to welcoming Suliasi Vunivalu back to rugby and to Queensland in 2021," he said.

"Suliasi grew up playing rugby in New Zealand before becoming one of the NRL's most exciting players.

"He's an impressive talent and has an awesome ability to find the try-line. He brings good experience too with almost 100 NRL games for Melbourne and 12 rugby league Tests for Fiji. Suliasi will be a great addition to our programme."

Josh Addo-Carr is committed to Melbourne Storm despite reports linking him with a return to Wests Tigers, insists CEO Dave Donaghy.

The Tigers were believed to have turned their attention to the Melbourne wing, who was said to be interested in moving back to Sydney for personal reasons, after pulling out of negotiations with Latrell Mitchell.

However, the NRL minor premiers have stated Addo-Carr will not be going anywhere ahead of the 2020 campaign.

"We don't respond a lot to external noise but given there is quite a bit of commentary at the moment I thought I'd clear that up," Donaghy told the Herald Sun.

"Where the talk is coming from I'm not sure, but I can say hand on heart Josh is committed to Storm as much as we're committed to Josh.

"I can understand and accept at different times two plus two can equal five as opposed to what it actually equals.

"I think it is all part of the theatre, the environment of the industry that we operate in and that's the reality.

"The facts of the matter are Josh's current contract status is he's signed until 2021 and he's reaffirmed his commitment to Storm.

"Not that we were seeking it, we knew that anyway, but he felt he wanted to reaffirm that."

The Storm also confirmed the departures of Brodie Croft and Curtis Scott on Friday.

Croft has joined Brisbane Broncos on a three-year deal, while Scott agreed a four-year contract with 2019 Grand Final runners-up Canberra Raiders.

Wests Tigers have withdrawn their offer for disgruntled Sydney Roosters star Latrell Mitchell, the NRL side revealed on Thursday.

The Tigers were interested in luring Mitchell from NRL champions the Roosters, who pulled their contract offer for the centre earlier this month.

Mitchell – contracted to the Roosters for another season – has also been linked to Canterbury Bulldogs and Gold Coast Titans.

But the 22-year-old Australia international will not be making the move to Wests Tigers as his future remains in limbo.

"We've withdrawn the offer," Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe told foxsports.com.au.

"It's an active market and we have a responsibility to our members, fans and the club.

"We're focused on securing talent but in relation to Latrell, we've moved on."

It comes as the Tigers reportedly set their sights on Melbourne Storm star Josh Addo-Carr.

A Grand Final winner with the Storm in 2017, New South Wales representative Addo-Carr is believed to be eyeing a return home.

The 24-year-old speedster moved to the Storm from the Tigers ahead of the 2017 season.

 

NRL great Cameron Smith will play for Melbourne Storm during the 2020 season.

Smith, 36, became the first player to reach 400 NRL games during 2019, consolidating his position among the greats.

The former Australia and Queensland star, who is Storm captain, will play on next year, it was confirmed on Thursday.

"I've had a good break after another pretty big season in 2019. I've had time to relax and put my feet up and I'm feeling pretty fresh now," the hooker said.

"I'm looking forward to next year.

"I've been given some 'long service' leave [from training] as I had last year as well so I won't be back until the New Year.

"That seemed to work really well last year. It gives me plenty of time to freshen up and get ready for another gruelling season.

"I'm excited to see the squad improve on last year … and seeing the younger guys go to another level again in 2020."

Smith played 27 games last season and finished as runner-up to Sydney Roosters star James Tedesco for the Dally M Medal.

Storm finished top of the table before falling to a Preliminary Final loss to eventual premiers the Roosters.

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