Interstate NRL players who have refused a flu shot for ethical or religious reasons will not be allowed to play in Queensland.
In a setback for the NRL ahead of their May 28 restart, Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Tuesday players would only receive vaccination exemptions on medical grounds.
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The Queensland government's “no jab, no play” stance is bad news for Gold Coast duo Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly who have been stood down after rejecting the jab.
And it is a blow for the NRL's anti-vaccination players including Manly duo Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake, Canterbury rake Sione Katoa plus Canberra trio Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joseph Tapine.
It is believed a total of about 20 players have signed a waiver to avoid a flu jab for various reasons.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys had been confident the Queensland government would accept their biosecurity guidelines that would allow NRL players to sign a waiver to refuse the vaccination.
It would have cleared Cartwright and Kelly to return to training after they were stood down following the intervention of the Queensland government.
But Young said on Tuesday she had told the NRL they would only provide exemptions for players who have had adverse reactions to vaccinations.
“I sent a letter to the NRL yesterday in which I did exempt them for medical contrary indications, no different to the exemptions I provide for children who are attending child care or for people going to aged care so they have those same exemptions,” she said.
“If they have got medical reasons for not being vaccinated (they will receive an exemption).
“If they have had an anaphylactic reaction to previous flu vaccine or any component of a flu vaccine, you do not need to be vaccinated so I have provided that exemption.”
No exemption except for medical reasons
Asked if players could receive an exemption on any other grounds, Young said: “That's not covered.
“Although the NRL did not put that in their initial submission to me I thought it was reasonable that the NRL players and support staff, coaches and officials have that same exemption that I provide for visitors going into aged-care facilities or for children.”
Young said she was not sure whether her exemptions on medical grounds would clear the Titans duo to play.
“I don't know they (NRL) haven't come back to me,” she said.
It is a blow for the Titans who look set to seek clarity from the NRL over potential compensation in their 32-man squad while Cartwright and Kelly are stood down.
However, a number of interstate NRL players won't be allowed to play when their teams visit Queensland after the competition restart due to the state government's policy.
The NRL said they accepted the Queensland government's call.
“We respect the decision of the Queensland Chief Health Officer and are working with clubs to mitigate the impact on the season when it resumes on May 28,” a spokesman said.
“We have always said we will comply with the directions of relevant government and health authorities.
“It will mean a small number of players will be ineligible to play in Queensland while the current restrictions remain in place.”
Danny Levi said it would be a blow if Manly teammates Walker and Fonua-Blake were not allowed to play in Queensland.
“Obviously it would be pretty disappointing,” he said.
“But at the same time the game is trying to make sure everyone is healthy, and as long as I am keeping myself fit and healthy that's all I can worry about.”