ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has warned NRL players and staff who breach the biosecurity bubble are risking their income for generations to come.
After a string of COVID-19 protocol breaches by some of the biggest names in the game over the weekend, the NRL has flagged tougher penalties to ensure the message is clear.
“It’s extremely disappointing because they’re putting at risk not only their own income but the income of a lot of people in the game,” V’landys said on Monday.
“And not only their income now but their income for the future in the next two to three years, probably generations.
“Because if our game stops, we’ll need to borrow money and those monies will need to be repaid at some point.”
NRL players this year are receiving 80 per cent of their contracted wage, but a loss in revenue could trigger further cuts.
V’landys said while the majority of players are adhering to the rules, the one per cent who aren’t can ruin credibility with governments, which would shut down the competition or cause severe disruption.
It comes as Queensland’s chief health officer warned the season could be shut down if players did not follow the strict COVID-19 protocols.
Several players and coaching staff are in periods of mandatory isolation after breaching the NRL’s protocols in the past week.
Brisbane enforcer Tevita Pangai Jr and two Newcastle players – reported to be young winger Starford To’a and uncapped playmaker Simi Sasagi – were the latest breaches to emerge on Sunday.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett and St George Illawarra forward Paul Vaughan are also in isolation after their breaches last week along with three members of the Broncos’ coaching staff including Allan Langer.
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold entered a quarantine period though he opted to exit Brisbane’s bubble temporarily to deal with a family matter after Friday’s loss to South Sydney before returning from NSW.
Dr Jeanette Young said while NRL officials were doing all they could to adhere to biosecurity protocols, players were putting the season’s ongoing future in jeopardy.
“There have been a number of breaches that potentially put the season at risk,” Dr Young told reporters.
“I’m satisfied that management are dealing with this very, very seriously. I’m not sure that players understand the seriousness.”
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was confident the NRL would do all it could to stamp out further breaches but it was disappointing the matter had to be addressed at all.
“Incredibly frustrating, because Queenslanders are doing the right thing and this puts at risk all the great work that Queenslanders have done,” she said.
“Every code that’s here in Queensland has signed up to an industry plan and must do the right thing.”