Brisbane veteran Darius Boyd said he would retire if he was forced to be away from his family for months on end, ramping up pressure on the governing body to cater for families and partners during the coronavirus crisis.
Anderson said she was unsure if some players would choose not to take part in the restructured season, stressing each displaced club should be afforded extra wellbeing professionals when arriving in NSW.
You shouldn’t be made to feel you’ve done something wrong for whatever reason if you can’t commit
Dr Deidre Anderson
“Until that question is asked, we don’t know [if players will decline to be part of the competition], but they can’t be penalised for that,” she said.
“You shouldn’t be made to feel you’ve done something wrong for whatever reason if you can’t commit to being in that environment for a five-month period.
“This is not a Mickey Mouse situation, if we don’t get the medical side of things right or get the wellbeing side of things right and we don’t really understand the uniqueness of the individuals being asked to do this, we’ll have all these peripheral issues which will distract from the beauty of the game. We don’t want that.
“If we continue to engage with the players about the ‘what ifs’, all these players will have the answers for how it will work for them.
“Some players may not want their families there. Some family situations won’t allow players to go.
“We’ve got a lot of Pacific Islanders with family that is so extended, and some of the Indigenous players may have to be dealt with differently too. I think that’s where the answer lies, continually engage with the individuals and they’ll get it right.”
The RLPA was locked in talks with the Warriors late in the week to help them better understand the sacrifices they will make to be part of the reformed season.
The Warriors were fearful they needed to leave New Zealand this weekend to fulfil a two-week quarantine period and then a three-week mini pre-season before the season resumes.
The NRL is planning for Stephen Kearney’s squad to arrive in Australia on May 3 and for all clubs to return to training the following day, if government restrictions are relaxed.
Anderson, who has a history of athlete mentoring and is helping Australia’s Olympic softball team through the Tokyo postponement, said the accommodation for non-NSW teams must provide opportunities for separation.
“You can’t just throw a whole stack of players in a new environment without really understanding it,” she said. “It needs to be a home away from home, to the point where you need to take your own pillow and set it up so it is as normal as possible. There’s a hell of a lot of detail to be thrashed out.
“[But] I think we’re on the right track at the moment with the relationship with the NRL, particularly [ARL Commission chairman] Peter V’landys, and making sure the players are absolutely engaged with it. The best insurance policy the NRL can have is to continually engage with those players.”
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.