Gold Coast Titans Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly refusing vaccinations puts squads at risk, says Melbourne Storm’s Christian Welch


Welch’s comments come as the NRL faces the dilemma of players outside of Queensland who have refused the shot being locked out of the sunshine state.

Queensland is the only state to have applied the ‘no jab, no play” stance, with Gold Coast duo Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly stood down from training. The Titans have given the pair a deadline of Thursday to receive their shots, the club issuing a statement to that effect on Tuesday evening.

Christian Welch and his Storm teammates, along with club staff, have all received the flu vaccine.Credit:AAP

Welch agrees with the state government’s approach.

“If you are demonstrating any form of symptoms similar to the coronavirus, you get isolated and taken away from the group,” he said.

“And you have to be 48 hours free of symptoms before you can return to training.

“My thinking on that is, if we have a member in our squad who’s more susceptible to be sick and potentially come in … especially this year with how strict everything is, I think it’s a bit of a risk for the squad.”

But while he sided with Queensland’s anti-vaccination policy for sporting bodies, he was opposed to blanket testing professional athletes for COVID-19.

While AFL players are expecting to be tested for the virus by the end of this week, the NRL has so far relied on their biosecurity measures to keep players healthy.

“I like the protocols we’ve got at the moment. At the same time, I think about the general community and the perception of that (test),” Welch said.

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“I don’t want the community to think that we’re more entitled to a corona test, (especially) if we don’t have symptoms or anything like that.

“Just because we’re professional footballers, doesn’t make us better or more entitled to those health services than everyday Australians.

“But if the tests – I don’t know how much they cost per test – are widely accessible, or if the NRL can access them, yeah, sure, that’d be great.”

AAP

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