Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Players across all 16 NRL clubs have recently been put under COVID protocols by the National Rugby League in a bid to ensure the 2022 competition can get off to an uninterrupted start and not be impeded throughout.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys spoke of said protocols last Thursday on The Ray Hadley Morning Show.
“It won’t be a hard bubble this year, it will be what we call a soft bubble,” said V’landys.
“The players will be able to go to places but they must use common sense.
“They can’t go to pubs or nightclubs that are full of people but they can go to restaurants that are outdoor dining so their lives won’t be as disrupted as they have been the last two years because we are confident that if one player does catch it we will catch it early with the rapid antigen tests and that way they won’t infect any of the other players.”
#NRLAllStars comin' at ya!
— NRL (@NRL) January 12, 2022
Since V’landys has brought these restrictions into place players have gone public with their dissatisfaction, which led to the NRL meeting with the Rugby League Players Association on Monday.
RLPA chairman and former NRL player Clint Newton spoke to the Daily Telegraph, describing his meeting with the NRL as “productive.”
“What the key problem and concerns for us was the restrictions to be placed on players was over and above what the state requirements are,” Newton said.
“In the past two years, we’ve operated over and above what community expectations were but that was when Covid was at a low transmission rate.
“We’re in a situation now where hundreds of thousands of people are infected with Covid, either with symptoms or are asymptomatic.
“Trying to stop Covid coming into rugby league, will be like me trying to stop an avalanche with a leaf blower.
“You’re not going to stop it so we’re going to have to work to live with it and the best way to do that, is to allow now more than ever, players to live under no restrictions other than state requirements.”
There is currently no official word on whether or not the NRL will ease restrictions for its athletes before the 2022 season commences, but it seems they will continue to work with the RLPA to put the players in the safest position possible.
As things stand the 2022 NRL season will kick off on Thursday the 10th of March as defending premiers the Penrith Panthers host the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.