“I’m a fan of Melbourne Storm. I played rugby league at high school and I played rugby league in the early days of the army. But this was a chance I was not prepared to take for my community.”
Docksey said the conversations he had with many members of the local community indicated they were uneasy about hosting the Storm, despite some coronavirus restrictions easing recently.
“I heard my community. They’re the ones who put me where I am and I’m quite happy and quite comfortable with my decision,” Docksey said.
“Amongst our councillors, we have two doctors. I listened to one of (those) doctors in particular and the other one confirmed that the testing procedures are not 100 per cent in relation to temperature testing.”
Storm CEO Dave Donaghy doesn’t see things the same way.
He says the welcome for the Storm has been a warm one.
I know our players. They’re all professionals, they’re all very fine young men.
“I was there on Monday or Tuesday and the reception I received from the locals, whether it was Steve at the quality hotel resort where the team is being based at or the couple of young ladies that own the gym, it’s been nothing but everyone receiving us with open arms,” Donaghy told SEN.
The Storm chief also defended his players and backed them to abide by the strict NRL biosecurity measures.
“I know our players. They’re all professionals, they’re all very fine young men,” Donaghy told ABC News Breakfast.
“They’ve been fully educated on the protocols that are in place now. That education took place on Monday.
“They’re fully aware of the sanctions that will apply if anyone stands out of line with that. For me, I’m incredibly comfortable about our playing group and our staff.”
Donaghy said the 32 players and 18 staff would act like “ghosts” in Albury and will have almost no contact with the local community.
“They’ll be in Albury but for the first time ever, we will be asking people to stay away from us,” he said.
“They won’t be mingling with the public. They will head from the hotel, to the gym, to the field.”
The decision to bar the club from using the Albury Thunder ground sent club officials scrambling to find an alternative, private ground for training on Wednesday.
Soon after news of the decision was revealed, the club had locked in training at the home of the local AFL club – the Albury Tigers.
NRL clubs all begin official training on Wednesday.
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.