Hasler hopeful Qld vaccine stance changes

Scott Bailey
Manly coach Des Hasler hopes Queensland's policy on flu jabs changes before his team plays there

Manly coach Des Hasler is hopeful any non-vaccinated players will be able to play in Queensland by the time his team gets there in two months.

The NRL's revised draw has done a good job of keeping the controversial issue at bay, allowing for a possible change of state goverment policy if coronavirus restrictions continue to ease.

Manly are likely to be the first team with top-line players who have refused the flu shot on non-medical grounds to play in Queensland when they face North Queensland in Townsville.

But the good news for the Sea Eagles is that match isn't until July 24 and it's their only visit to the Sunshine State.

Under Queensland government restrictions, players who have rejected the flu jab without a medical exemption are unable to train or play in the state.

The Sea Eagles are believed have two such players, with Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake both initially opting against being vaccinated.

"I think as we get into the season the status might change," Hasler said of the government restrictions.

"It's still a tough game, travelling to Townsville."

Either way, Hasler said he was not concerned about the matter.

Canberra follow the Sea Eagles to Townsville the following week, before returning for a clash with Gold Coast on August 22.

The Raiders have Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine and Sia Soliola in their squad who refused the vaccine earlier this month.

Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa also opposed vaccination and his team face Brisbane on July 11 in their only trip to the state.

Katoa however was not part of the Bulldogs' first-choice 17 for the opening two rounds.

Under the current status, the NRL say they would abide by the Queensland government's rule for such players not to play or train in the state.

Gold Coast avoided an issue last week when Bryce Cartwright got a medical exemption to having the needle, while Brian Kelly eventually relented and got his jab.

It is questionable if either of the pair will be in the Titans' team to face North Queensland when the game returns next weekend, after missing a week of training.