Manly Sea Eagles news
Manly Sea Eagles news

Five NRL clubs impacted by anti-vaxxer bans

Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary may not be the only Panther missing when the NRL season resumes on May 28 after the Queensland Government doubled down on its 'no jab, no play policy'.

Despite being cleared to play and train in NSW, a small group of NRL anti-vaxxers have thrown the season draw into disarray after it was determined on Tuesday that players who refuse the flu shot remain banned in Queensland.

The move could force the NRL, who are planning to announce an overhauled draw this week, to play all games in NSW until all government restrictions on vaccination and travel are relaxed.

 

The Panthers could be missing more than just Nathan Cleary if they are to play games in Queensland. Picture: Panthers Media.
The Panthers could be missing more than just Nathan Cleary if they are to play games in Queensland. Picture: Panthers Media.

Given the disruption the issue could potentially cause, The Daily Telegraph canvassed all 16 NRL clubs to see which franchises, and athletes, were impacted by the new rule.

All but Penrith provided details.

It is understood the Panthers could take into double figures the list of NRL players still refusing to be needled - which is headed by Gold Coast forward Bryce Cartwright.

It has now been nine days since The Daily Telegraph first contacted the Titans to see if rugby league's most recognised anti-vaxxer would be getting a flu shot as requested within strict NRL biosecurity guidelines.

As of Tuesday night, both the 25-year-old and Gold Coast centre Brian Kelly were still refusing the shot, which means the duo are also banned from attending club training sessions.

Titans’ Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly have been stood down for refusing the vaccination. Picture: AAP.
Titans’ Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly have been stood down for refusing the vaccination. Picture: AAP.

The other players to have refused are Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa, Manly stars Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake, and Canberra trio Josh Papalii, Joe Tapine and Sia Soliola.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys is now investigating how to structure the draw if players are not allowed to enter Queensland.

Should Cartwright refuse to budge on his anti-vaccination stance, as expected, it will put his $600,000 salary in jeopardy.

It is understood, however, other players on the list will consider overturning their decision if Queensland's ban is still in place by the season start in 16 days.

Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, Canberra CEO Don Furner said his club would wait until the draw was released before determining what, if any, impact his players' refusal would have on the Raiders.

Josh Papalii is one of three Canberra Raiders players refusing the vaccine. Picture: John McCutcheon.
Josh Papalii is one of three Canberra Raiders players refusing the vaccine. Picture: John McCutcheon.

Manly chief executive Stephen Humphreys agreed that by the time the Sea Eagles were required to play north of the border, the current government requirements may no longer be in place.

"So we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said.

Meanwhile, a Canterbury official also confirmed Katoa as their only unvaccinated player while Panthers refused to comment, suggesting they could not reveal club medical records.

The decision comes in the same week Penrith No.7 Cleary and team-mate Tyrone May were both issued two-match suspensions for the now infamous TikTok video that breached strict NRL social distancing rules.

Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa is the only Bulldogs player to not have the vaccination. Picture: Gregg Porteous, NRL Photos.
Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa is the only Bulldogs player to not have the vaccination. Picture: Gregg Porteous, NRL Photos.

On Tuesday, Queensland chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young confirmed footballers would not be allowed to play in Queensland if they had not been vaccinated.

Dr Young added the only players exempt were those with medical reasons.

"(And) they're very clear," she said. "If they've had an anaphylactic reaction to a previous flu vaccine or to any component of the flu vaccine then you do not need to be vaccinated."

Both Furner and Humphries suggested that among their five players, some could fall under the latter category.

"From the conversations I've had, their reasons are quite personal and relate to experiences they've had in the past," Humphries said.

"So while I wouldn't categorically say they are in that (exemption group), they have had experiences in the past that are framing their thinking."

 

 

Manly players have stood up for teammates refusing the vaccination. Picture: Gregg Porteous, NRL Photos.
Manly players have stood up for teammates refusing the vaccination. Picture: Gregg Porteous, NRL Photos.
 

MANLY PLAYERS STAND BY TEAMMATES' FLU SHOT STANCE

-Matt Logue

Manly players have declared it would be "disappointing" and "unfortunate" if stars Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake were stood down prior to games in Queensland for refusing to take the flu shot.

The drama around some NRL players refusing to take the flu shot took another twist on Tuesday when Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said players would only receive vaccination exemptions on medical grounds.

The Queensland government's "no jab, no play" stance could see a host of NRL players join Gold Coast pair Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly on the sidelines for declining the flu shot.

Manly duo Walker and Fonua-Blake could also be impacted, but Sea Eagles prop Toff Sipley says he appreciates their decision not to take the flu shot.

"I haven't personally spoken to them, but when it comes to stuff like that, I guess it is just each to their own," Sipley said.

"Some boys are for it, some boys aren't, and you have just got to respect their decision and move on.

"That would be unfortunate (if they were stood down), but I guess that is in the NRL's hands and out of ours.

"Whatever they do around it, I guess that is what you have got to do.

"Again, each to their own when it comes to the flu shot."

Manly's Addin Fonua-Blake wore a face mask during training before the NR shutdown. Picture: Brett Costello.
Manly's Addin Fonua-Blake wore a face mask during training before the NR shutdown. Picture: Brett Costello.

 

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys recently expressed confidence that the Queensland government would accept biosecurity guidelines to allow NRL players to sign a waiver to refuse the vaccination.

Regardless, the issue has created plenty of debate.

Walker took to social media last weekend to express his concerns surrounding "freedom of choice" when it came to the flu shot.

"We are all entitled and have a right to choose to deal with our health in ways that feel right to us uniquely," Walker wrote on Instagram.

"I am not anti-anything. I am not giving medical advice. I am standing for freedom to choose and to make decisions for our own bodies."

Originally published as Five NRL clubs impacted by anti-vaxxer bans



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