“Not our approach”: the NRL will not follow the AFL in making the vaccine against the Covid-19 compulsory

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NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said players would not be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but warned that unvaccinated players would be subject to more stringent protocols.

Hours after the AFL asked its players to get their shots by mid-February, Abdo took a slightly different approach.

The NRL has struggled with mandatory vaccinations since the resumption of the 2020 season when several top players, including Bryce Cartwright, Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine, expressed their reluctance to get the flu shot.

Despite numerous rival companies and codes requiring employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, Abdo said the NRL would leave it to the players.

“It’s clear that we have to make sure we have continuity with the competition, and we are creating a safe working environment,” he told Channel 7.

“We are busy working on protocols for players who are vaccinated and players who are not vaccinated. Hopefully we are talking about a very small group of players. They will, I imagine, have pretty stringent requirements as to what they will be able to do to train and play.

“Of course, that could be taken away from us by health orders or by airlines, so there will be repercussions for those who choose not to be vaccinated, but that is not our approach as a governing body.” to mandate him.

“Between now and the end of the offseason, we will have a very clear set of guidelines on how clubs and players can safely return to training for those who are vaccinated and those who are not yet. “

Abdo claimed that some clubs had nearly 90% of players and staff vaccinated with the governing body’s own staff up to 98%.

Meanwhile, Abdo said the potential introduction of an 18th team could see the NRL introduce a conference system.

The Redcliffe Dolphins, who unveiled Wayne Bennett as their coach on Thursday, will become the 17th franchise in the NRL in the 2023 season.

Although he declined to speculate on the date and origin of the 18th club, Abdo said the increase in the number of teams would force the Australian Rugby League Commission to consider a conference system.

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“You have to start with the end goal in mind,” he said. “An 18th team gives us another game every round and the even number of teams allows for different setups.

“We should look at the virtues and the pros and cons of a conferencing model. We are suffering from a draw that is not symmetrical.

“Not all teams play against the other team at home and away.

“The advantage of a conference model – and it doesn’t have to be geographic – is that you are able to ensure fairness in the draw, which makes it clear to fans who they will play every season.

“You can focus on local rivalries and a competition within a competition. “

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