The NRL’s coronavirus biosecurity bubble has been burst nine times in just four days, forcing the code’s bosses to offer a stern and final warning to misbehaving players and coaches.
- ARLC boss Peter V’Landys says “people are being selfish” in breaching coronavirus bubble regulations
- Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the league would take “the strongest action possible” in future
- Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the breaches were “incredibly frustrating”
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’Landys said harsher punishments were on the way for those breaking the rules, while warning the league’s arrangement with the Queensland Government “could be withdrawn any day”.
“We will increase financial penalties to act as a deterrent because these people are being selfish,” V’Landys said.
“It’s concerning because the whole competition is at stake.”
Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the league would take “the strongest action possible” against any offending member of the bubble.
Those found to be breaking the rules are placed into lockdown for 14 days and could face fines.
The currently banished includes two Newcastle Knights players under investigation, Bronco Tevita Pangai Jr, who visited a barbershop, Broncos coach Anthony Seibold and three Broncos officials, including club great Alfie Langer.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett and Paul Vaughan were also issued $20,000 and $10,000 fines respectively for dining out at a restaurant.
Bennett is on the Project Apollo board, which created the biosecurity protocols.
“It’s not ideal to lose your coach for a couple of weeks but he [Bennett] knows now that what he did was wrong,” Souths player Campbell Graham said.
“Everyone is in the same boat and the rules are clear now, but it does get a bit confusing with the chopping and changing of rules.”
The rules were somewhat relaxed in June, but more strict restrictions were reinstated in July when cases rose in the eastern states.
Despite some alleged confusion, the NRL insists the majority are doing the right thing.
Queensland has been the life-raft for the NRL during the pandemic. The Queensland Government has hosted the Melbourne Storm for months, and has given players exemptions to travel interstate.
But this recent spate of errors threatens to derail that agreement.
“I’m satisfied that management is dealing with this very, very seriously — I am not satisfied that the players understand the seriousness,” Dr Jeanette Young, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, said on Monday.
Rugby League isn’t forgetting that goodwill is strictly conditional.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the breaches were “incredibly frustrating because Queenslanders are doing the right thing and this puts at risk all that great work”.
There are still seven rounds to go before finals in this irregular season.