V’landys believes the NRL will have no choice but to hand out significant fines and lengthy suspensions, as the fate of the entire code rests on the players abiding by the protocols – which will essentially ban players from spending time anywhere other than their club and at home.
The biosecurity measures – which have been worked through with the RLPA and clubs since a draft was sent to clubs on Sunday – will prevent players having visitors, doing public exercise and travelling via Uber or taxis.
“What they have to understand is that they don’t just put their career in jeopardy, they put the whole game in jeopardy,” V’landys said. “Today, the game has copped a lot of criticism because of it.”
Criticism came from the highest places on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian weighed in on the NRL’s return following the social distancing scandals.
Berejiklian declared the actions of the fined quartet have put the May 28 season restart in doubt.
“We always base any decision on health advice and on the ability of an organisation to stick to that health advice so I think it does jeopardise, what’s happened, because the season hasn’t even started,” Berejiklian said.
“Ordinarily people might turn a blind eye here and there but not when it’s life and death. We are in a pandemic. It’s life and death. To compromise someone else’s safety, that’s inexcusable.
“The word disappointing doesn’t really cut it, does it?
“Everybody’s trying so hard to stick to the rules, everybody’s trying so hard to do the right thing and then to have people behave in that way is beyond belief.
“There are a number of question marks and the organisation doesn’t do itself any service by having players acting that way.”
Morrison fired a shot of a different kind when he declared the Warriors had not yet been cleared to travel to Australia, despite news to the contrary earlier this week.
“The Commonwealth has made no decision about the access by the Warriors into Australia. That hasn’t happened,” Morrison said.
“There’s still a bit of work to do. I like the aspiration and it would be good to see it back on there but it has to satisfy all the health requirements.”
Despite Morrison’s comments, NRL sources have told the Herald that written approval for the Warriors to fly into NSW on Sunday is expected by Friday.
A decision on any further punishments for Cleary is expected to be made on Thursday.
A day after the Panthers star told Nine News he had no idea photographs had been taken while he was in breach of social distancing protocol, two TikTok videos emerged of the playmaker actively participating in dance routines with the same group of women.
The matter was once again referred to the NRL integrity unit, which is now investigating.
“I wish I hadn’t done the video, just got carried away in the moment. I was stupid. I messed up,” Cleary said from his home on Wednesday.
“I’m just finding the whole social distancing and isolation stuff too much. It’s not something anyone has ever gone through before, it’s difficult.
“I regret doing the video. If they fine me more I’ll deal with that at the time. I’m just going to wait and see what happens when I speak to the integrity unit.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.