Players without COVID vaccine could return to clubs from December 1

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The NRL will hand down its vaccination protocols at a meeting with all 16 clubs on Thursday afternoon after deciding to allow unvaccinated players to continue their duties in a restricted capacity.

In NSW, unvaccinated players will not be allowed to train with teammates before December 1, with the NRL to encourage clubs to create individual programs for those who do not wish to be jabbed to undertake away from team headquarters.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys.Credit:Getty

The guidelines will be revisited when the public health order is expected to change on December 1, with unvaccinated players to potentially be welcomed back into the fold under strict conditions.

Those conditions include regular PCR testing, face masks and an agreement that they will not be allowed to visit pubs and clubs for the remainder of the season. They are similar protocols the players have been adhering to the past couple of years.

At this point, such players would be barred from playing matches in Melbourne. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was adamant on Wednesday that unvaccinated tennis players would not receive an exemption to contest the Australian Open in January.

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Sources with knowledge of discussions told the Herald that the NRL will not prohibit any player from taking part in individual outdoor sessions, however unvaccinated players will be banned from indoor gym and video sessions until at least December 1.

The NRL has refused to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, with ARLC chairman Peter V’landys firmly of the opinion the players should not be forced into a decision.

However, there will be guidelines implemented for those who choose not to be vaccinated, with clubs facing the possibility of restructuring contracts for those who are ineligible to travel interstate to play matches if they are not vaccinated.

The Herald also understands the Queensland Government is considering forcing teams and all close contacts into mandatory 14-day isolation if an unvaccinated player tests positive to COVID-19. That could have major ramifications on the start of the season.

More to come

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