Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly may not be paid next month as NRL, Gold Coast Titans brace for courtroom showdown

The Herald has obtained a copy of an NRL player contract, which is likely to be dissected heavily should Kelly and Cartwright, who is on a deal believed to be worth more than $600,000 a year until the end of 2021, be denied the right to train and play.

Under the “termination due to health risk” section of the contract, it states: “Where in the reasonable opinion of the club medical officer, the player would by reason of some physical medical condition be exposed by playing the game to a greater than usual risk to his health, or to a greater than usual risk to injury, the club may at any time during the employment term, terminate this agreement with immediate effect.”

Brian Kelly has also refused to take the flu shot.Credit:AAP

Under the NRL rules, which the players are contracted to abide by, it also states: “That a player must make every effort to be and remain fit to play the game, and is and will be able to perform his obligations under the agreement, without exposing himself to greater than usual risk to injury.”

Insurance and liability lawyer Lucinda Lyons said the NRL could be at risk if a vaccination directive was not outlined in either its policies or the players’ contracts with the club.

“With all professional sporting codes, a number of policies and agreements regulate NRL player conduct on and off the field,” Lyons said. “It would be surprising if these polices and agreements do not preserve for the NRL, or for the individual clubs, some power that might be used to try to exclude a player from participating unless he is vaccinated or has signed a waiver.

“However, unless there is a clear and specific power in relation to vaccinations, this may leave some room for argument as to the legality of the move.”

Employment lawyer Kamal Farouque said players could lawfully be stood down even without a provision in their contract, so long as the directive from the NRL and clubs was considered reasonable.


“In the current environment, the ground would be shifting towards an assessment that the requirement is lawful and reasonable,” he said.

Titans coach Justin Holbrook said on Monday he was part of the majority who think players should get the vaccination and move on. He said he was preparing for a season without Cartwright and Kelly.

“I’m one of the 98 per cent, and there will be 98 per cent in the community that will say just get the shot and come back to work,” he said. “But those 2 per cent; they’ve got some different views and two circumstances and it’s not that easy for those guys.”


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