Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett and Dragons prop Paul Vaughan will be forced to isolate for 14 days after a frustrated Peter V’landys claimed the pair should both know better than to dine out.
The NRL said the decision was made to put the pair on a two-week ‘COVID hold’ after they contravened NRL biosecurity protocols.
Bennett revealed on Thursday that he visited a Sydney restaurant on Wednesday with his partner, while NSW State of Origin forward Vaughan had breakfast at a Wollongong cafe on Thursday.
Both have been tested for COVID-19.
Bennett is set to be barred from coaching in person for two weeks, while Vaughan is unable to play for St George Illawarra against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
Bennett claimed on Thursday he did not know he was breaking the NRL’s biosecurity rules with the lunch date, despite being on the Project Apollo committee.
But V’landys said the pair had put the sport at risk.
“I just hope the game treats this as a wake-up call,” V’landys told AAP.
“They’re not just jeopardising the game in the short term.
“They are jeopardising their own futures for the next two seasons and they’re jeopardising future generations of the game of rugby league.
“Because if it shuts down and we can’t operate, it will have dire effects for years. Not months, but years.
“Because if they don’t (wake up to it), and we don’t finish the season, their consequences will be catastrophic.”
V’landys was adamant that swift action by the NRL would stop any concerns from the Queensland government.
Bennett coached Souths players at training on Thursday, with his team set to take on his former side Brisbane on Friday night.
The NRL has been granted an exemption by the Queensland government to have sides travel across the closed state border due to their biosecurity rules being in place.
“We have the protocols in place, they approved the protocols. And we are now administering the protocols,” V’landys said.
“That gives credibility to governments. Because they can see if someone breaches them, we immediately take action.
“I’m confident the government can see we are responsible, and we will take the responsible action when required, because no system is foolproof.”
It means Bennett will likely be replaced by Jason Demetriou, just two years after his succession plan to have him replace him at the Broncos was knocked back.
Bennett on Thursday admitted he’d been out on previous occasions, and said his confusion arose given he could shop for groceries at packed shopping centres.
“I went for lunch yesterday at Grappa, I did. If it was a breach I wouldn’t have done it. I didn’t think it was a breach. I went with my partner who I live with, just me and her, had something to eat there and that was it,” Bennett said.
He said the restaurant was not busy, and he’d made a point to sit away from other people.
However under the NRL’s rules, no players or coaches within the bubble can have visitors or go to pubs, cafes or restaurants.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I thought I did something wrong,” Bennett said.
“If (isolation) is what’s got to happen, that’s their call. The rules have changed that many times about what we can do and can’t do.
“I didn’t think I was breaking rules yesterday because I wasn’t with a group, it was just me and my partner.”