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Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young has slammed NRL players and their families over recent COVID-19 breaches and warned one more incident will see the competition booted from the state.
Speaking at Queensland’s daily COVID-19 press conference on Friday, Young said she was “very close” to ending the hub arrangement.
All NRL clubs are currently based in Queensland, under quarantine conditions, while some families flew into the state this week as well.
Coming after Jai Arrow’s bubble breach during Origin and allegations surfacing of NSW player Api Koroisau also breaking the bubble by sneaking a woman into his Brisbane hotel, Young said she was made aware of an incident at a quarantine hotel containing family members where people were passing goods between balconies.
Young warned that any further breaches would result the NRL teams and their families being sent home.
“I’m getting very close to it,” she said when asked whether she was considering retracting Queensland’s agreement with the NRL.
On Thursday, the NRL judiciary launched an investigation into an alleged COVID-19 breach by Apisai Koroisau. Credit:NRL Photos
“I’m very, very concerned about what is happening with these NRL players. This is too risky. We just cannot have people deliberately breaching the rules.”
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo had a phone hook-up with the families on Thursday night to remind them to follow the COVID-19 restrictions.
It came after the hotel had to give a warning via the hotel’s intercom to not pass items between floors and balconies.
The NRL integrity unit announced on Thursday it was investigating Koroisau.
On Friday, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said he had spoken to Koroisau and said the club was throwing their support behind his wife, who has travelled to Queensland.
“It’s probably not appropriate for me to comment on what he’s said or what he hasn’t. The investigation is still going. Once the NRL finalises that, as a club we’ll come out with a statement,” Cleary said.
“Until we know the sanctions, if any, we’ll make a call on [whether he will play this week].”
“We’ve got some contingencies in the squad with Mitch Kenny on the bench. Whatever happens, we’ll make a final decision once the NRL makes their decision.”
Earlier this month Maroons star Jai Arrow was handed a two-match ban and $35,000 fine for secretly bringing a woman into the Sheraton Grand Mirage in breach of biosecurity protocols.
On Friday morning, Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys warned any player who breached COVID-19 rules would be heavily sanctioned.
“Anyone who’s breached the bubble and put the game and the income of fellow players at risk will be heavily penalised if the allegations are proven true,” V’landys said on 2GB.
“It was first brought to the attention of the NSWRL yesterday who then referred it to the integrity department. We haven’t really had a chance to investigate it and see the veracity of the allegations.
“We certainly penalised the St George Illawarra team and Jai Arrow and it will be no different if these allegations are proven. At the moment they are just allegations and we need to investigate them.”
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