NSW Police will investigate social media photos appearing to show NRL stars Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell flouting social-distancing rules.
On the same day the NRL gave clubs a draft of strict new biosecurity rules, Melbourne Storm winger Addo-Carr posted images of himself and South Sydney fullback Mitchell at a property near Taree.
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Mitchell has a farm in the region and spent a significant amount of his summer there while considering his contract options before joining the Rabbitohs.
Addo-Carr posted a number of photos and videos that would suggest the men contravened the government’s strict social-distancing guidelines.
The posts didn’t have time stamps and have since been deleted.
Under NSW guidelines, people can only leave the house for work, essential shopping, personal exercise, medical appointments and compassionate visits.
“The matter will be investigated. What action is taken will fall out of that investigation,” Deputy Commissioner Dave Hudson said on Monday.
"I have spoken this morning to the regional commander at northern.
"He will make himself aware of what's on the back page of the paper and make some inquiries.
"Police haven't been backward at all in taking complaints, making investigations and taking the appropriate action.”
NRL also investigating controversial photos
Addo-Carr has since told News Corp he was with his pregnant partner in the region and visited his cousins and uncles.
“It was a cultural gathering,” he said.
“Learning about our land and our culture, learning how to hunt, live off the land.”
The NRL has also confirmed they would investigate the matter and support any government sanctions handed down, given it appears a massive blow to restart their season.
“On face value, the image in today's media is both disappointing and an unacceptable breach of health orders,” the NRL said in a statement.
“The NRL will be speaking to the players involved to seek further information and we will ensure the players provide any assistance authorities require.
“Our players are role models and we expect them to lead by example during this pandemic.”
Daily Telegraph editor-at-large Phil Rothfield told Big Sports Breakfast the players are facing possible suspension.
“We’ve still got selfish people like footballers camping while everyone else is in lockdown,” he said on Monday morning.
“It’s disappointing more than anything else that everyone else is facing sacrifices.”
Canberra Raiders legend Laurie Daley said Mitchell and Addo-Carr had effectively put the NRL’s bid to restart the suspended season in jeopardy.
“It’s one thing to be able to put these things in place but people need to follow them,” he said.
NRL players to undergo environment checks
The incident occurred on the same day the NRL announced all players and staff will be subject to environment checks as well as a number of strict protocols laid out in an extensive biosecurity document sent to clubs.
The 48-page draft document outlined a list of health and safety measures for clubs to abide by to return to training on May 4.
As the NRL charges towards a May 28 restart, clubs will be required to register a maximum of 50 players and staff to gain access to training and games - all of whom will need to have their environments approved.
An identified risk is believed to require the player or staff member to find alternative accommodation.
Other guidelines include temperature checks, daily cleaning of equipment, single access to venues and isolation for players in their homes except for travelling to training, playing, doctor's visits or essential food shopping.
Also proposed are restrictions on training in public spaces outside of the club environment, and a ban on using public transport, taxis and car sharing.
The NRL has already warned any breach of the health and safety measures will carry strict penalties, which is understood to include loss of competition points and fines.
The NRL is also looking at appointing an independent “spy” to make sure teams are abiding by protocols.
While details are yet to be finalised, the NRL believes the new protocols will be more stringent than government restrictions.
Clubs will now have five business days to organise equipment and staff to meet the strict guidelines.
The RLPA and club bosses will meet on Monday afternoon to give their feedback to the guidelines before they are approved.