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Queensland prop Christian Welch concedes his NRL colleagues must stop "thinking they're above the average man or woman" after teammate Jai Arrow was sent packing from camp for the code's latest COVID-19 bubble breach.
Arrow was fined $35,000 and banned for two games after allegedly sneaking a woman into their Gold Coast camp in a breach of the NRL's COVID-19 protocols.
His indiscretion comes in the same week 13 St George Illawarra players were punished by the police, the NRL and their club for attending a party at the now-sacked Paul Vaughan's house.
Incredibly, extra around-the-clock security has been deployed at the Maroons' accommodation to ensure no further COVID-19 breaches.
Maroons coach Paul Green on Friday read out a short statement deferring questions to the NRL, leaving Welch to answer for his teammate ahead of next week's third State of Origin in Newcastle.
Asked why governments should continue to grant exemptions to the NRL, the Melbourne prop - himself penalised for inviting a guest into the Storm's Sunshine Coast camp last season - didn't side-step the issue.
"It's a good question to be honest; specifically rugby league and NRL male players need to lift our game by abiding by COVID rules and not thinking we're above the average man or woman," he said.
"I've been through that process where I made that really poor decision and there's been a few others this year and it's something we really need to get a hold of because it's doing a lot of damage ... it could jeopardise the game.
"Instances like this don't auger well for how you're perceived and getting towelled up in games of rugby league doesn't help either.
"So we've got a lot of work to do as a group to regain the trust of not only Queensland rugby league fans, but the public in general."
Green, on a one-year deal with Queensland, offered a statement but refused to take questions before training on Friday.
Welch defended his coach as the side attempts to avoid the worst series defeat in Origin history - the Blues currently lead 76-6.
"He's had a pretty rough 48 hours trying to deal with the situation," Welch said.
"His first year as Maroons coach and it hasn't gone as well as we would've hoped.
"We've had a tough series. Go back 12 months and talk about the culture of the Maroons and it's pretty much the same staff, playing group.
"Greeny's come in for Wayne (Bennett) but otherwise it's pretty much identical, the group that's here."
Welch said he wouldn't "bag the bloke" and that he'd still be happy to play alongside Arrow in a Queensland jersey.
"It took me a fair bit as well (to recover from); you do it pretty tough those first few days but you can't do much other than put your hand up and own it," he said.
"Then you put your head down and win back that trust."