Unfair to take NRL games from Qld: Titans

Scott Bailey
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NRL WARRIORS TITANS

Gold Coast skipper Ryan James says it would be unfair to take NRL games away from Queensland

Gold Coast captain Ryan James says it will be unfair if Queensland teams can't host NRL games this year due to the state's flu vaccination stance.

The NRL is still trying to work out a revised draw for 2020, but some players refusal to take a flu jab looms as a complicating factor.

The Queensland government has confirmed it won't allow players who have not been immunised without a medical excuse to train and play in the state.

The NSW opposition also piled the pressure on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to do the same on Wednesday, in a move that would affect up to four interstate clubs.

Regardless, Queensland's stance has already forced Titans players Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly to stand down, with the pair required to tell the club by Thursday if they will adhere to a formal request to take the needle.

But it also means interstate clubs could be affected when their team travels to Queensland.

Manly's Dylan Walker and Canterbury's Sione Katoa have already refused the inoculation, while Canberra have three players - including Josh Papalii - refusing to take the measure.

Their stance has prompted the NRL to consider having all games played in NSW pending any easing of the government stance to avoid teams losing some players for matches played in Queensland.

That however would not save Cartwright or Kelly's season, given they will be unable to train with the club until they receive the flu immunisation

"It probably would be (unfair)," James said.

"To have those players stood down and not have any games here would be taking it to another level.

"I don't think you would be able to take those games away from Queensland because you wouldn't get any home games and would have to travel."

James said that while there would be no fans in stadiums, there was a distinct advantage in playing at home given the travel required to fly to and from Sydney.

The Titans captain had contacted Cartwright and Kelly but did not try to influence their decision ahead of Thursday's deadline.

"It would be brave of them (to stick to their position)," James said.

"Not too many people are willing to fight for what they believe in."

James' comments came as the NSW's shadow health minister Ryan Park urged the state government to adopt the same policy as Queensland.

"I don't think it is too much to ask for professional footballers, many of them highly paid, to be vaccinated against the flu," Park told AAP.

"If players want to make a stance, that is up to them. But they can't have it both ways. We are in the middle of a pandemic.

"The reality is if one of them was to come down with the flu they are more likely susceptible to COVID-19.

"I don't think in this environment that (a jab) is too much for a government to ask."