NRL makes big call on divisive anti-vaxxer issue

Bryce Cartwright and Josh Papalii are among the NRL stars who won't be forced into getting a flu shot. Pic: Getty

Despite pressure to adopt a "no jab, no play" policy, the ARL Commission is set to tinker with a vaccination waiver clause to allow NRL players to play if they refuse to get a flu shot.

The governing body was on Thursday expected to decide whether to force players to be vaccinated as part of strict biosecurity measures that will allow the league's resumption on May 28.

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It came to a head after a number of players including Gold Coast's Bryce Cartwright refused vaccination and Canberra trio Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joseph Tapine declined to sign the waiver.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton upped the ante on Thursday, backing Prime Minister Scott Morrison's call that players who refused vaccination should be banned, describing religious beliefs around the issue as “dangerous”.

However, the ARLC is poised to revise the waiver clause to allow NRL players who decline vaccination can continue to train and play.

It was forced to have another look at the waiver's clauses after Cartwright and the Raiders trio polarised the rugby league community with their stance.

Canberra's trio returned to training on Thursday, a day after being kept away for refusing to sign the original vaccination waiver.

They crossed out the line "that they are at greater risk of getting the flu if they are not vaccinated".

It is understood they protested the policy on cultural grounds.

It’s understood the revised waiver now asks players to confirm that they’ve been advised about the added risks of not being vaccinated.

The NRL says around 97 per cent of its players and staff - more than 800 individuals - have had the flu shot.

"These protocols have been reaffirmed to clubs and players today, including the requirement for flu vaccinations for all players and staff," an NRL statement said.

"The protocols allow for exemptions to vaccinations under compelling circumstances, including requiring players to sign a release. Until an NRL-approved release is acknowledged and signed by players, they will not be permitted to train."

Cartwright took to social media to say he "won't be bullied" into receiving a shot after copping criticism for his stance.

The revised policy is being presented after ARLC chair Peter V'landys sought guidance from the players' union.

Home Affairs minister backs ‘no jab, no play’ policy

Dutton placed more pressure on the governing body on Thursday after backing Morrison's "no jab, no play" call, saying the league should apply a blanket ban for players who refused the shot.

"I think that's spot on," Dutton said on 2GB radio, 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."

Dutton added the anti-vaccination movement had been discredited for some time and religious grounds should not be exempt.

Dutton's comments came after Cartwright launched a spirited defence on social media on Wednesday night.

"I won't be bullied into making decisions that could impact my health and the health of my family," he posted.

"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."

James Graham believed some of the biosecurity protocols were "excessive" but when asked about his vaccination stance, the St George Illawarra forward said: "Ask your doctor, don't ask footballers."