The NRL stars unlikely to play due to flu jab refusal

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Manly coach Des Hasler accepts Addin Fonua-Blake (pictured) might become the first player to miss a game due to not taking the flu vaccine next week. (Getty Images)
Manly coach Des Hasler accepts Addin Fonua-Blake (pictured) might become the first player to miss a game due to not taking the flu vaccine next week. (Getty Images)

Manly coach Des Hasler is resigned to Addin Fonua-Blake becoming the first NRL player to miss a match for not taking the flu vaccine.

Fonua-Blake is due to return from his two-week ban from contrary conduct against North Queensland next week, with Manly set to fly to Townsville.

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However, the Queensland government has remained steadfast that players who have not been vaccinated will not be able to play in the state without a medical exemption.

Fonua-Blake was one of the few Sydney players to refuse the flu shot, with Manly initially hopeful the state government's position would have changed by now.

But it has not, and when asked on Friday if Fonua-Blake was expected to miss the match unless the rules change, Hasler said: "That's correct."

"At the moment the flu vaccination is compulsory."

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo confirmed this week it was status quo on the vaccination front, with players who had not received the jab unable to play in Queensland.

Fonua-Blake had been the NRL's most damaging prop before his ban two weeks ago, averaging 180 metres a game for Manly up front.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler talks during a press conference.
Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler talks during a press conference. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

His decision not to be vaccinated could prove even more worrying for Manly if case numbers continue to rise in Sydney, and the NRL is forced to move the team north of the border.

Hasler on Friday conceded that the massive logistical task would have to be at the front of the NRL's mind.

Canberra are due to play in Queensland in a fortnight, and would desperately want Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine in their side given their shortage in the middle.

The pair - along with the now injured Sia Soliola - had initially opted against having the jab before the competition resumed, although their position could change.

The other player to initially refuse it - Canterbury's Sione Katoa - received the jab to play in last week's loss to Brisbane.

West Tigers players from hotspots cleared

The developments come after the NRL breathed a sigh of relief on Friday morning, with Wests Tigers players living in COVID-19 hotspots cleared of the virus.

David Nofoaluma and Josh Aloiai were whisked away from Tigers training on Thursday, with the NRL requesting they be tested for the virus.

Both they - and coaching staff Brett Hodgson and Simon Dwyer - weren't showing symptoms but live in the Liverpool and Campbelltown areas.

Had they returned positive samples, it would have likely seen Friday night's fixture at Leichhardt Oval postponed.

Under a deal reached with the Queensland Government on Friday, all players living in the state will now enter into the same strict biosecurity bubble as NSW players.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had been concerned about Queensland-based players coming into contact with opponents from Sydney's hotspots.

It prompted the very real possibility of the four Queensland clubs being forced to relocate into NSW hubs, or having to stay in hotel isolation in their home state.