Phil Gould has hit out amid the NRL’s ugly anti-vaccination debate, describing anti-vaxx views as ‘stupid’ and ‘nonsense’.
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.
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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.
Bryce Cartwright and wife Shanelle have been at the centre of the controversy after the Gold Coast Titans star refused to have the jab.
Shanelle has also caused controversy with her social-media activity, seemingly likening the anti-vaxx debate to the Holocaust.
Phil Gould lashes out at anti-vaxxers
And Gould has officially heard enough.
“It’s now a platform to keep getting this anti-vaxx message out there, it’s become a bit of a soap box for them,” Gould said on his ‘Six Tackles With Gus’ podcast on Wide World of Sports.
The Channel Nine commentator said he took a trip to Samoa in February and saw first-hand the effects of not vaccinating.
There were 5700 cases and 83 deaths when a measles outbreak hit the island nation in September, with an immunisation rate of just 40 per cent mainly due to religious reasons.
“I’ve gone back several times and tried to research the philosophy behind (the anti-vaxx movement)... I can find absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing that makes any sense whatsoever,” Gould said.
“Yet I can find any number of research papers and evidence from experts telling us the danger of (not vaccinating).
“I think what we fear for is the children. You know, 'why would you risk your children like this,' that's the fear that we have.
“It's not the fear of the adult that doesn't want to take vaccination or wants to talk about this philosophy and talk about this theory. What we fear is what might happen to their child if they got a serious disease that could have been easily avoided.
“That's the fear that we have when we think about the people who are talking this rubbish. And it is rubbish. There's no foundation for it.
“But I can tell you that talking to them is like talking to a brick wall. You are not going to change them, you are not going to change their opinion, you're not going to change their mentality.
“All you are doing is giving them oxygen to keep espousing these theories and these philosophies and none of it makes sense, absolutely none of it makes sense.”
Gould backed up his comments on the Today Show on Thursday morning, describing the anti-vaxx movement as ‘stupid’ and ‘nonsense’.
NRL facing headache over anti-vaxxing players
Queensland's stance has already forced 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.