NRL’s decision not to mandate Covid vaccinations could damage Warriors finals hopes

Peter V'Landys says an unvaccinated player is at no more risk than a vaccinated player.

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Peter V’Landys says an unvaccinated player is at no more risk than a vaccinated player.

OPINION: The NRL’s decision to not mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for players might have serious repercussions for the Warriors next year.

The AFL (Aussie Rules) has announced all players and staff must be vaccinated and if they don’t they’ll be sacked, but ARLC chairman Peter V’Landys has said the NRL won’t do likewise.

V’Landys says he hopes players get vaccinated, and government rules could make it difficult for the unjabbed to travel, train, play or cross borders, but by not making it an NRL mandate, he has passed the buck, which will cause headaches for all clubs, particularly the Warriors.

The club, whose players have had a nomadic life for the past two years, hopes to play half a dozen games at Mt Smart Stadium at the back end of next season.

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Throughout the NRL, there are players who don’t want to get vaccinated and the Warriors would be no different.

These players won’t be able to play or train in the same way as their jabbed team-mates next season. If the NRL had mandated vaccinations, clubs would have been able to terminate their contracts.

The Warriors are looking to play six games in Auckland next year, but may have to play these fixtures without vaccinated players.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The Warriors are looking to play six games in Auckland next year, but may have to play these fixtures without vaccinated players.

But like basketballer Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, NRL clubs will be stuck with players who won’t get vaccinated, can’t play fully, but will still be demanding all of the money in their contracts.

With the Warriors the situation is worse, because even if travel restrictions are eventually lifted between Australian states, there is no appetite from the New Zealand government for them to be removed for those who aren’t vaccinated.

So if there are Warriors players who won’t get jabbed, they’ll miss a quarter of the teams’ games next season.

Over the last two years the NRL made a big deal about having the strictest of all protocols to protect the game from Covid, but has now backed away from insisting players get vaccinated.

The Bulldogs' Luke Thompson was opposed to getting vaccinated, but the latest reports from Australia are that he's agreed to get it done by the end of the year.

Matt King/Getty Images

The Bulldogs’ Luke Thompson was opposed to getting vaccinated, but the latest reports from Australia are that he’s agreed to get it done by the end of the year.

Stuff understands at this point clubs are taking a softly, softly approach with players who won’t get vaccinated, but as it gets closer to the start of the season patience will run out.

In interviews this week about why vaccinations won’t be mandatory in the NRL, V’Landys made an unusual comment, saying unvaccinated players are at ‘no more risk’ than those who are double jabbed.

“There is a lot of hysteria that goes on about this issue (but) a vaccinated person can also catch this disease and pass it on, just like an unvaccinated person,” V’Landys told News Corp.

“An unvaccinated player is at no more risk than a vaccinated player. The only risk is that he will get very, very sick, while a vaccinated player may not get very sick at all.”

It has been reported in Australia that V’Landys, who is also the CEO of Racing NSW, won’t bring in a mandatory vaccination policy for horse racing in the state, even though Racing Victoria has done so.

No NRL club has announced it has reached 100 per cent vaccination of its staff, while in the AFL five clubs have announced they’ve achieved that and three more are expected to reach that level of coverage soon.

Clubs are getting legal advice as to whether they can sack players who won’t get vaccinated, arguing that the non-vaccinated won’t be able to fulfil their contractual obligations if they’re not able to cross state or international borders.

It’s a situation that is going to get messy and end up in the courts. But it could have been sorted out simply if V’Landys did what the AFL did.

Meanwhile, the Warriors, who’ve done it tougher than every other club in the last two years, will just have to cop it again.