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Commentator tells NRL to ‘take notice’

Rugby league commentator Yvonne Sampson has weighed in on the NRL’s vaccination debate, saying the sport should “take notice” after Prime Minister Scott Morrison put his foot down. Gold Coast star Bryce Cartwright has refused a compulsory flu shot as the NRL marches towards a season restart on May 28. The league is asking all…

Rugby league commentator Yvonne Sampson has weighed in on the NRL’s vaccination debate, saying the sport should “take notice” after Prime Minister Scott Morrison put his foot down.

Gold Coast star Bryce Cartwright has refused a compulsory flu shot as the NRL marches towards a season restart on May 28. The league is asking all players to receive the vaccination in an added step to help protect against the spread of coronavirus, but Cartwright has defended his opposition by saying he should be able to choose what he puts into his body.

Cartwright has not vaccinated his children and his wife Shanelle stood by the couple’s stance on social media yesterday. Meanwhile, three Canberra Raiders stars were reportedly no-shows at training yesterday as they protested the code’s strict biosecurity measures, refusing to sign the waiver surrounding their objection to the NRL’s compulsory vaccination policy.

Morrison told 2GB radio yesterday players who refuse vaccinations should be barred from playing under a “no jab, no play” proposition, and Fox League caller and presenter Sampson said the game needs to sit up and listen when the most powerful person in the country has a say.

“It’s a pretty strong statement when the Prime Minister again has to weigh in and say, ‘Hi guys, hey rugby league, just listen up really quick, no jab, no play’,” Sampson said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

“We’ve really got to take notice.”

As a result of the debate, Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys will enter into talks with the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in an attempt to encourage players to vaccinate.

Medical experts have said contracting the flu can increase a person’s chance of becoming infected with coronavirus, which is why the league is pushing for across-the-board vaccinations.

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“What really surprised all of my colleagues at Fox is that the flu shot’s not new at clubland, it’s something that’s offered every year and I guess there’s more focus and attention on it with the COVID-19 around,” Sampson said.

“You can’t afford to get the flu and perhaps be exposed to coronavirus.

“It’s a situation where the clubs and the commission and the biosecurity experts and the chief medical advisers are all in agreement saying, ‘Guys … we think this should be compulsory’ … and there’s some players who say, you know what, for whatever reason, ‘That doesn’t align with me and I refuse to go along with that’.”

Sampson said the anti-vaccination debate is a “really tricky one” and just one of many “strange and challenging” situations rugby league will face as it deals with the coronavirus epidemic.

Meanwhile, Queensland legend Billy Moore said while players have a right to choose what they put in their body, the NRL would also have a right to prevent them stepping onto the field if they don’t abide by the league’s biosecurity protocols.

“You’ve got every right to say what does and doesn’t go in your body,” Moore said on 92.7 Mix FM’s Mark and Caroline.

“But … the game can also say to you, ‘If you don’t want to get a flu shot, that’s fine, but if we’re going to use this as one of our protocols (for the season to restart) … and we decide that you’re not going to be allowed to play because you won’t take the flu shot, you also won’t get paid’.

“There’s got to be a bit of give and take in this one from both sides.”

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