Revealed: The NRL stars who refuse to be vaccinated

 

Some of the NRL's biggest names will decide their immediate playing futures in the next 48 hours after ARLC chairman Peter V'landys made it crystal clear they needed to get the flu shot or sign a waiver if they did not want to be barred from playing.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt about 20 players will make the call on whether they will sign an amended waiver after hesitating to receive the flu shot this week.

It is understood among those who need to decide include Manly trio Dylan Walker, Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake, Canberra players Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine, Canterbury's Sione Katoa and Gold Coast's Bryce Cartwright.

 

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Cartwright’s choice won’t affect his season. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Cartwright’s choice won’t affect his season. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Papalii - who trained with his teammates on Thursday - broke his silence on Thursday night telling The Daily Telegraph he was confident the issue would be resolved shortly.

"The NRL are working on it so it's all good," Papalii said. "Hopefully it's all sorted soon. I'm looking forward to getting back on the field and playing."

The flu vaccine became mandatory for players this week as part of wide-sweeping biosecurity protocols adopted by the game. Players who wanted to skip the shot were given the option of signing a waiver with pre-approval by the club's doctor.

However, they baulked at a clause within the waiver which would have them "acknowledging and agreeing" to a range of conditions for refusing the flu vaccine.

 

Josh Papalii is confident the vaccination issue would be resolved shortly. Picture: Getty Images
Josh Papalii is confident the vaccination issue would be resolved shortly. Picture: Getty Images

 

Instead the clause has been amended to indicate they acknowledge and agree they have been advised by a doctor of the potential risk-factors by not being immunised.

Despite the uncertainty, V'landys made it clear where the game stands after an ARL Commission meeting on Thursday.

"97 per cent of the players have been vaccinated," V'landys said. "There is only a small percentage that haven't. Our medical advice is that because it's such a small percentage of players it doesn't pose a risk.

"In our protocols we always allowed players to sign a waiver. It's a minor change.

 

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"We have changed it to say they acknowledge the doctors have told them it is a health risk. The clause has been changed that they have been advised it is a health risk.

"It has no effect on the waiver. All the rest of the clauses that were taken out will be put back in and if a player doesn't sign the new form they won't play.

"The (change is being) finalised and we want it signed as soon as possible."

The NRL's integrity unit reached out to club's on Thursday to find out exactly how many players and officials as part of the new 50-person training roster had yet to have the vaccine or sign the waiver.

Penrith's Api Koroisau has thrown his support behind Cartwright on social media. It is understood Cartwright is not the only Titans player who was yet to receive an injection.

 

Sia Soliola was one of the Raiders to refuse the jab. Photo: Kym Smith
Sia Soliola was one of the Raiders to refuse the jab. Photo: Kym Smith

 

Australian Medical Association NSW President Dr Kean-Seng Lim described any anti-vaccination stance as "selfish" and dangerous to the community.

Dr Lim said a slip in vaccination rates could allow deadly diseases to return to Australian communities.

"Vaccination is one of the great success stories of modern medicine and good public vaccination campaigns have led to the eradication of previously life-threatening illness like small pox," he said.

"It's a shame to see some of these illnesses comes back because of falls in vaccination rates and we need to be constantly vigilant that we have a good level of immunity in the community to prevent these diseases from coming back."

"The whole story of vaccines being unsafe keeps coming up again and again and this is something which has been constantly evaluated and studied and there is no evidence for these reports."

Originally published as Revealed: The NRL stars who refuse to be vaccinated



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