Blunt ultimatum for 20 NRL anti-vaxxers

Rugby league great Gorden Tallis says he’d be disappointed by Bryce Cartwright’s decision to refuse a flu shot if he were a Gold Coast teammate, claiming the NRL star’s stance could derail the game.

Cartwright was arguably the most outspoken player who rejected a vaccination which was part of the strict biosecurity measures that helped allow the NRL competition to resume on May 28 from a coronavirus shutdown.

It is believed a total of about 20 players across the NRL rejected a jab, prompting the ARL Commission to revise a vaccination waiver clause on Thursday that allowed those who refused a shot to keep playing. However, any player who does not sign the altered waiver will be banned.

While Titans Dale Copley and Nathan Peats have publicly backed Cartwright this week, Tallis – who has worked as a Gold Coast volunteer consultant – said he wouldn’t be impressed with the anti-vax stance if he was a teammate.

“Publicly they are going to back him because everyone is entitled to do what they want,” he told Fox League Live.

“But privately I would be really disappointed because the game could be derailed so easily.

“It would safeguard your family and team by going and getting a flu shot … (that is) getting hand delivered to them.

“I had my flu shot for the first time this year because of my family and where the world is at the moment.”

Queensland great Gorden Tallis.Source:News Corp Australia

But ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said he was comfortable restarting the competition with only three per cent of NRL players expected to sign the amended waiver.

“Our medical advice is that because the vast majority have been vaccinated it doesn’t put anyone at risk,” he told AAP.

“A handful is not going to make that much of a difference.

“All they are doing is causing themselves inconvenience because every time they get a sniffle or sore throat they are going to have to get a test.

“A clause has been taken out. It used to say they believe by not having it (vaccination) that would put them medically at risk – well they don’t believe that.

“If any player doesn’t execute the waiver they will not be able to play.”

Players from Manly, Canterbury, Canberra and the Gold Coast are believed to have refused a shot and must now decide whether they will sign the amended waiver.

Besides Cartwright, The Daily Telegraph reports those players included Manly trio Dylan Walker, Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake, Canberra’s Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine and Canterbury’s Sione Katoa.

But Gold Coast head of performance and culture Mal Meninga expected Cartwright to sign the dotted line.

“That’s all been sorted out. We have some direction on that now and obviously Bryce signs the waiver,” he told Fox League Live.

Bryce Cartwright arrives at Gold Coast NRL training session.Source:Getty Images

Meanwhile, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart argued his three grand final stars did not wish to make a political statement.

“At no stage did they want to create any media attention,” Stuart told The Daily Telegraph.

“So it’s not an anti-vax crusades. No one is making a statement. This was about their own private and personal principles.

“They’re actually rattled by the attention that it’s created … There were couple of sentences in the waiver that they didn’t believe in.

“They could have signed it but it was against their principles. They don’t want to create any animosity or harm the game in any way. I know that for a fact.”

With AAP

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