'It's dangerous': Peter Dutton slams religious virus claims

Peter Dutton, pictured here discussing the coronavirus crisis in parliament. Image: Getty
Peter Dutton says players like Josh Papalii refusing the flu shot should be banned. Image: Getty

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has heaped more pressure on the NRL to adopt a “no jab, no play” policy, saying health commitments must be adhered to.

The ARL Commission on Thursday is poised to decide whether it will force players to take a flu shot prior to the league's resumption on May 28.

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Gold Coast forward Bryce Cartwright has refused the jab and claimed it would be “coercion” if pushed into getting the vaccination.

Three Canberra players, including Kangaroos star Josh Papalii, have also been barred from training after modifying wording on the league's waiver form.

It is believed the Raiders have done so on religious grounds.

Dutton's comments come a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the league should apply a blanket ban for players who refused the shot.

“I think that's spot on,” Dutton said on 2GB radio on Thursday, adding the Warriors' exemption into the country was contingent on health commitments.

“The conditions were obvious and the commitments were made by the NRL before a decision was made to allow them to go ahead.

“We provided support, obviously, for the players to come from New Zealand, and we did that based on the health advice.

“And the health advice was based on the commitments given by the NRL.

“So I think it's pretty clear cut.”

Bryce Cartwright, pictured here at training with his Gold Coast Titans teammates.
Bryce Cartwright at training with his Gold Coast Titans teammates. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Dutton says religious reasons don’t cut it

As it stands, NRL players are allowed to play and train if they sign a waiver.

However, the governing body is believed to be considering whether to alter its policy, which will be presented to the commission on Thursday.

ARLC chair Peter V'landys will also seek guidance from the players' union.

Dutton added the anti-vaccination movement had been discredited for some time and religious grounds shouldn't be exempt.

“We shouldn't give any credibility to people that preach what is a religion for some, for a small minority, because it's dangerous,” he said.

“There are lots of young people out there who look to these players as role models, as heroes in their lives, and they shouldn't be hearing these messages.

“I think that's an important part of the discussion as well.

“But the commitments have been made by the players, by the administrators, and they should be adhered to.”

Cartwright took to social media on Wednesday to say he won't be bullied into getting a flu shot.

Cartwright and the Raiders trio put a line through a sentence stating players accept being at greater risk of contracting influenza without the injection.

“I won't be bullied into making decisions that could impact my health and the health of my family,” he posted on social media.

“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.”