The NRL will immediately turn its attention to the challenges posed by COVID-19 – with vaccinations top of the agenda – which lie ahead after the successful completion of the 2021 season.
The game’s executives breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday morning when the Queensland government reported zero COVID-19 cases, ending fears of a last-gasp grand final venue switch.
The previous 72 hours had been spent organising contingency plans for the decider after a COVID-19 outbreak across south-east Queensland last week.
Alternatives considered by the NRL included moving the game to regional Queensland, as well as delaying the match to avoid playing the game’s showpiece in front of an empty stadium.
Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys said the NRL was “ecstatic” the grand final was able to go ahead at 75 per cent capacity, but he warned that some of the game’s biggest challenges are still ahead.
“It has been a hectic few days. We did not want to play the grand final without a crowd. But the end of the season is probably going to be as hectic as the season,” V’landys said on Sunday.
Panthers fan Shane Binns receives the COVID-19 vaccination at a pop-up clinic at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.Credit:Getty
“The problem we’ve got is people think we are through COVID-19 – we are not. Just because you’re double vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t catch it. We are going to have all these challenges next year.
“Unfortunately it’s just not going to be close the door and relax after tomorrow – it’s going to continue on.”
Players who had delayed having their COVID-19 jabs until their season was over are now being vaccinated. While the ARLC said it won’t be mandating the vaccine, players who chose not to have the jab may encounter issues associated with travel and entering certain venues.
Some of the NRL’s biggest names including Nathan Cleary, Ben Hunt, Wade Graham, Damien Cook and Christian Welch have lent their support to the vaccine rollout and fronted an NRL campaign this year outlining their motivation for receiving the jab.
With the season now over, players are now getting their COVID-19 jabs.Credit:Getty
The Sydney Roosters have already announced plans to exclude unvaccinated fans next season.
Last month, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he would be encouraging all his players to be vaccinated, while the club would provide education on the jab. However, a number of Storm players have already flagged their reluctance to have the jab, with the club silently bracing for some initial refusals.
Two NBL players opted to leave their clubs rather than have the COVID-19 vaccination last month.
New Zealand international Tai Webster left the Breakers over his stance, while import guard Travis Trice departed the Illawarra Hawks for the coming season over his refusal to get the jab.
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article