Unvaccinated NRL players facing sack under bombshell new proposal

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
NRL boss Andrew Abdo, pictured here speaking to the media in Sydney.
NRL players who refuse to get vaccinated could face the sack. Image: Getty

NRL players who refuse to get vaccinated could face being sacked in a radical proposal being considered by league bosses.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Rugby League Players’ Association has drafted a proposal with a number of NRL club bosses that would see unvaccinated players sacked with eight weeks' notice.

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Players could also be docked pay while unavailable for training or games.

The proposal was reportedly sent to all clubs on Tuesday afternoon as NRL CEO Andrew Abdo faced scrutiny over the league's vaccination policy.

The complicated situation was highlighted on Tuesday with Canberra CEO Don Furner stating players would not be stood down if they were not jabbed.

Instead, they will have to follow stringent NRL protocols around training and miss games played in both Queensland and Victoria.

However the same flexibility cannot be afforded to the Melbourne Storm and three Queensland teams, with several players believed not to have had the jab in the northern state.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, the sole Melbourne Storm player resisting vaccination, can't return to training on December 7 with his teammates unless he gets his first jab this week.

While unvaccinated players can run out in NSW and ACT, Victorian health orders mean professional athletes must be vaccinated in order to attend training or games.

The Queensland Government also announced on Tuesday that only vaccinated people would be able to enter major stadiums from December 17.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured here speaking to the media in Brisbane.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media in Brisbane. (Photo by Dan Peled/Getty Images)

"From a code perspective if the NRL had mandated vaccinations the pathway through this would be much clearer," Melbourne CEO Justin Rodski said.

"Now each individual club is required to work through it and each club has a very different set of circumstances it needs to consider."

Roski said Melbourne were continuing discussions with Asofa-Solomona, who last week posted an anti-vaccination video on social media.

With three weeks required between jabs he needs to have his first by the end of this week.

"We're really hopeful he does and he can return to training on December 7 and begin his preparations," Rodski said.

"He has this week to make that decision and then it starts to impact his pre-season and his training.

"In saying that there's still pathways for him to return to training and playing next year.

"And we're working through what that framework looks like and the contractual considerations are but it's obviously a really complicated issue."

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, pictured here during a Melbourne Storm game.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona watches on during a Melbourne Storm game. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

NRL boss defends vaccination policy

It came as Abdo defended the NRL's position, claiming mandatory vaccines were not the "silver bullet".

The game's vaccine position will be challenged as soon as the opening round, with three games scheduled in Queensland.

"I don't think there's anything soft about our policy," Abdo said.

"What we are doing is we're giving people the freedom of choice, no different to many global sports around the world.

"No different to any federal or state government in Australia. No different to many employers.

"We want people to have the freedom of choice which I think is important.

"But we are putting health at the forefront of our policy which is why we believe in vaccination, we want everyone to get vaccinated."

Abdo did however indicate he would support whichever stance clubs took, with salary cap relief likely if players are let go.

"It's important that we adhere to the principle that clubs are autonomous and they run a business," Abdo said.

"They have a board and they need to think about what the policy is based on their (state's) jurisdiction, based on the club environment and broader policy."

with AAP

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