AFL surprise packets Gold Coast are being lined up to make Wollongong home, as part of a wider Sydney hub starting next week.
The Suns are drawn to play Geelong in Victoria on Saturday, but the fixture situation changed drastically on Wednesday, when the NSW Government announced severe penalties, including potential jail terms, for anyone from Covid-19 hotspots south of the border, which included players from the majority of the Melbourne teams.
As a result, the AFL has moved to create a NSW hub as early as next week, while continuing a hub in Queensland where the Suns and Brisbane Lions have been playing, as well as West Coast, Port Adelaide and Adelaide.
The AFL is also trying to establish a level of evenness in terms of home games played this year, which is why the Gold Coast are eyeing Wollongong as a destination.
The Suns were drawn to take on Hawthorn next week in Melbourne, but a new-look AFL draw is expected to be confirmed later today as part of the changing hubs.
It means arrangements have been made for Gold Coast to stay in Wollongong for two weeks and potentially longer as they monitor the Covid-19 outbreaks.
They are expected to train at AFL South Coast's major ground North Dalton Park, while using the University of Wollongong facilities have been listed as a major drawcard for bringing an AFL team to the region.
The Suns would then travel to play games at the GWS Giants' home ground Sydney Showground.
It is understood AFL, NSW Government and Wollongong council officials are still locked in preliminary discussions to finalise the protocols around the Suns' stay.
The Mercury understands another AFL club may also spend time in Wollongong, but details are yet to be mapped out.
Last week, when it looked like the Suns would spend a lengthy hub period in Victoria, Gold Coast football boss Jon Haines said they will not be complaining about any lengthy away schedule and will embrace the challenge.
In 2018, the Suns were unable to play at their Metricon Stadium headquarters until round 11 because of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
"The guys love spending time together. We're a really tight group in that sense. So we'll relish the opportunity to go on the road," Haines told reporters.
"We're open-minded to what the future looks like ... we're happy to go anywhere to play footy and to help the competition continue."
Wollongong has hosted an reserve grade NEAFL game between Sydney and Greater Western Sydney, as well as numerous Swans community camps in recent years, but this will be a significant step for AFL in the Illawarra.
After struggling throughout their existence, the Suns are second on the AFL ladder with a 3-1 record under coach Stuart Dew - only behind Port Adelaide - led by emerging superstar on-baller Matthew Rowell, who has been compared to premiership players Joel Selwood and Chris Judd.