Stars fear biosecurity test will force them out of homes


A club doctor will screen the households of every player and official that signs up to the NRL’s biosecurity register, which has been designed to ensure the season can resume on May 28.

If their living arrangement is considered to be a risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, they will be forced to move into a “bubble” environment away from their family and friends.

Club bosses were waiting for further clarification on the health and safety measures, which will be formally presented in education sessions on Monday, but relayed several examples of the household risk assessment that is concerning players and staff.

The New Zealand Warriors have been officially cleared to fly to Australia. Credit:NRL Photos

Concerns have been raised about players and staff whose partners work as nurses or school teachers, occupations considered among the highest risk of community transmission, and whether they can be forced to move out of home. Other players live with housemates who were still plying their trade on building sites and in foreign environments, while many Polynesian NRL stars come from large families where several siblings still attend school.

Then there are those players who live separately to their partners and have begun asking if they will be able to visit them or have visitors in their own household, a scenario initially banned in the draft proposal sent to clubs.

Those that are housed with older people, such as parents, who suffer from serious medical conditions, such as heart conditions, chronic lung disease and diabetes, will also need further assessment.

Since then the NSW government has deemed no more than two adults will now be allowed to enter another household under social distancing changes, which started on Friday.

Up to 50 players and staff from each club will be formally bound by the NRL’s biosecurity measures, which have been guided by biochemical and weapons expert Associate Professor David Heslop.

It comes as the NRL inches towards a formal pay agreement with players that will see them receive 80 per cent of their salary for 2020, one of the measures needed to be ticked off before the competition’s 480 athletes return to training.

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One of the most crucial pieces of the jigsaw fell into place when Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed 36 foreign nationals will arrive at Tamworth on a chartered flight on Sunday afternoon.

They will then get a police escort to their accommodation base before completing a two-week isolation period in the country music capital and then basing themselves on the Central Coast.

The NRL is receptive to loaning Stephen Kearney squad players if some are forced to return across the Tasman for personal reasons later in the year.

“The squad we’re taking across is the intended squad we play with throughout the duration of the season, however if things change for personal reasons for individuals on a case-by-case basis we can make applications to the NRL, particularly on compassionate grounds,” Warriors chief executive Cameron George said.

“Our club has been front and centre of a lot of discussion and a lot of speculation and a lot of challenges, however to get that notification only 24 hours before we are due to depart was a big relief for our club and our players.

“It will be great for our team to come home if circumstances change, but the focus is from everyone is we’re going and we’re going for the duration. If we can bring games back to New Zealand down the track so be it, but we’re not hopeful of that and we’re just focusing on the job at hand over the next couple of months.”

Right from the start of this pandemic, the club and its players have put the competition first and for that we will be forever thankful.

Peter V’landys

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said the game “cannot thank the Warriors enough for what they’re doing”.

“Right from the start of this pandemic the club and its players have put the competition first and for that we will be forever thankful,” he said.

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