Unfazed by criticism, Gold Coast star Bryce Cartwright says he won't be bullied into getting a flu shot after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for the NRL to adopt a “no jab, no play” approach.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys is set to enter talks with the RLPA to encourage players to agree to vaccination after Cartwright polarised the rugby league community with his stance.
'PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING': NRL WAG hits out over anti-vax backlash
Cartwright has refused a flu shot which is part of the NRL's strict biosecurity protocols in order to restart the competition next month following the coronavirus shutdown.
It prompted even Morrison to weigh in, saying the NRL should enforce a “no jab, no play” policy that would ensure players who rejected vaccination would be suspended from competing.
But Cartwright has dug his heels in, saying it would be “coercion” if he was forced to get a jab against his wishes and claimed he was not the only player in the NRL to refuse vaccination.
The Titans star also believed his decision to refuse a jab had been leaked to the media, sparking the “anti-vaxxer” backlash.
“I won't be bullied into making decisions that could impact my health and the health of my family,” he posted on social media.
“The flu shot is not mandatory in the NRL at the moment.
“Giving us the ultimatum of get(ting) the shot or be stood down is coercion and leaking private medical information is illegal.
“As for me being the first and apparently only one declining the shot is b******t and far from the truth.”
Bryce Cartwright’s wife doubles down
Cartwright's wife Shanelle has been outspoken about their family's decision to deny their children vaccines.
She even doubled down on Wednesday amid criticism of her husband, posting on social media that: “the proof is in the pudding, our kids are a picture of health”.
But Cartwright said he was not an anti-vaxxer.
“Not once have I said I am anti-vaccinations,” he said.
“I have never told anyone what they should or shouldn't do in regard to vaccinations.
“I stand for the freedom to choose who goes into our bodies..so to label me an 'anti-vaxxer' is spreading misinformation.”
But Cartwright added: “I know people in my industry with vaccine injured children and the herd NEVER stuck around for them.
“These are our bodies and we decide what goes in them.”
Cartwright has signed a vaccination waiver in order to train with the Titans but must explain his actions to NRL chief medical officer Paul Bloomfield.
An NRL spokesperson said players who refused to receive the shot would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis amid consultation with club and NRL medical staff.
While reports claimed Cartwright faced a ban, the NRL spokesperson refused to speculate on possible penalties.
But V'landys plans to talk with the RLPA players' union and stress the importance of players getting a shot this week.
Fittler and Copley fire back at ScoMo
Cartwright’s teammate Dale Copley and NRL legend Brad Fittler also fired back at the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
“I certainly throw my support behind Bryce. I think ScoMo has got his political parties a bit mixed up,” Copley said.
“The coalition is the one who is supposed to try and fight for our freedoms.
“Look, it's a crazy issue, it is very divisive (but) I have always been a supporter of freedom of choice and not encroaching on personal liberties.
“I am more than happy for Bryce to make his own decision in that regard.”
While Fittler told Wide World of Sports Radio: “I’m not sure why Scott Morrison demands that everyone has it.
“The flu shot ... I’ve never seen it as something that was mandatory or that I felt I had to have every year.”
With Yahoo Sports Staff