Anti-vaxx NRL players not welcome in Qld

Laine Clark and Scott Bailey
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Queensland CHO Jeannette Young

Queensland CHO Jeannette Young says NRL players who decline the flu shot by choice cannot play

Interstate NRL players who have refused a flu shot by choice will not be allowed to play in Queensland.

In a setback for the NRL ahead of their May 28 restart, Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Tuesday players would only receive vaccination exemptions on medical grounds.

The Queensland government's "no jab, no play" stance is bad news for Gold Coast duo Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly who have been stood down after rejecting the jab.

And it is a blow for the NRL's anti-vaccination players including Manly duo Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake, Canterbury rake Sione Katoa plus Canberra trio Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joseph Tapine.

The news also looks set to cause headaches for the league before the rest of the 2020 NRL draw is finalised as early as this week.

They may now be tempted to avoid scheduling games in Queensland for the teams who will be most affected - Canberra and Manly.

Overall about 20 players have signed a waiver to avoid a flu jab for various reasons.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys had been confident the Queensland government would accept their biosecurity guidelines that would allow NRL players to sign a waiver to refuse the vaccination.

It would have cleared Cartwright and Kelly to return to training after they were sidelined following the Queensland government's intervention.

But Young said she had told the NRL they would only provide medical exemptions for players.

"I sent a letter to the NRL yesterday (that said) if they have got medical reasons for not being vaccinated (they will receive an exemption)," she said.

"If they have had an anaphylactic reaction to previous flu vaccine or any component of a flu vaccine, you do not need to be vaccinated so I have provided that exemption.

"Although the NRL did not put that in their initial submission to me I thought it was reasonable that the NRL players, support staff, coaches and officials have that same exemption that I provide for visitors going into aged-care facilities or for children."

Asked if players could receive an exemption on any other grounds, Young said: "That's not covered".

Cartwright and Kelly are the only NRL players to have been stood down after the NSW government refused to adopt Queensland's "no jab, no play" stance.

However, a number of interstate NRL players won't be allowed to play when their teams visit Queensland after the competition restart due to the state government's policy.

The NRL said they accepted the decision.

"We respect the decision of the Queensland Chief Health Officer and are working with clubs to mitigate the impact on the season when it resumes on May 28," a spokesman said.

"We have always said we will comply with the directions of relevant government and health authorities.

"It will mean a small number of players will be ineligible to play in Queensland while the current restrictions remain in place."

Danny Levi said it would be a blow if Manly teammates Walker and Fonua-Blake were not allowed to play in Queensland.

"Obviously it would be pretty disappointing," he said.

"But at the same time the game is trying to make sure everyone is healthy."