Canterbury have been handed a $50,000 breach notice for failing to take all reasonable measures to ensure their players comply with the NRL’s biosecurity rules. 

The NRL announced on Wednesday that the club had failed to immediately notify its playing squad and football staff of additional restrictions that were placed on Sydney based NRL clubs on June 17.

It also alleges when the club communicated the changes the following day, “it failed to effectively communicate the restrictions to ensure players and officials understood exactly the obligations placed on them”.

The five players who attended the Coogee Bay Hotel and Royal Hotel in Bondi on June 20 – Dylan Napa, Brandon Wakeham, Corey Waddell, Sione Katoa and Aaron Schoupp – have also been issued breach notices.

The breach notice proposes fines which take into account the varying salaries of the players and the alleged shortcomings of the club’s communications.

  • Dylan Napa – $5000
  • Brandon Wakeham – $1750
  • Corey Waddell $1500
  • Sione Katoa $1250
  • Aaron Schoupp $250

The players must complete 14 days self-isolation in compliance with NSW Government Health Orders after being deemed close contacts of a positive case, ruling them out of Canterbury’s matches against Manly this Saturday and the Roosters seven days later.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said clubs had a responsibility to ensure their players clearly understand the biosecurity protocols.

“Our biosecurity protocols are the most important part of the competition, they are our licence to continue playing during the pandemic,” he said.

“All clubs and players have a responsibility to ensure they comply with the rules to keep themselves and the community safe.

“In this instance we believe the Bulldogs failed to ensure the upgraded protocols were clearly explained to their players.

“This sanction sends a clear message to every club that you must do everything possible to ensure players understand the protocols.

We believe the Bulldogs failed to ensure the upgraded protocols were clearly explained to their players.

Andrew Abdo

“The players also have an obligation to seek further information if they are unsure of the upgraded biosecurity advice.

“Given the breach took place several days after the upgraded protocols had been communicated, we believe a sanction upon the players is also appropriate. In issuing the sanctions, we have taken into account that the players had a degree of confusion about the protocols.”

Canterbury issued a statement to say they were  disappointed at the sanctions handed down by the NRL regarding communications and would be “conducting a thorough internal review and will respond to the sanctions within the five-day period”.

Dugan fined $25,000

Cronulla centre Josh Dugan has been issued with a breach notice for failing to comply with the game’s Biosecurity Protocols. The notice proposes Dugan be fined $25,000.

The breach notice alleges Dugan attended a restaurant in Potts Point on June 25 in breach of Level 3+ Biosecurity Protocols which require players to remain at home unless training, playing or conducting essential household requirements.

Cleary avoids surgery as Payten faces 14-day isolation

It is alleged that Dugan had been fully informed of his obligations by the Sharks and chose not to comply with them.

The alleged incident occurred late last week, prior to the NSW Government lockdown and was therefore not a violation of the NSW Government public health orders in place at the time.

A Cronulla statement said Dugan has returned a negative COVID test and hasn’t been in contact with other members of the playing group or staff due to the Sharks NRL squad having time off last week during the representative bye round.

However, he must undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period and undergo further COVID testing before being permitted to return to training or be available for team selection.

Payten isolates, Young takes coaching reins

North Queensland’s squad members and staff placed into isolation have tested negative to COVID-19.

The Cowboys have been granted permission to resume training.

Cowboys coach Todd Payten was forced to isolate as a close contact.

Payten will miss the Cowboys’ next two games after being sent into a 14-day isolation due to close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Townsville.

The Cowboys cancelled Wednesday’s training session, with assistant coach Dean Young to take charge for their next two clashes against Newcastle and South Sydney.

North Queensland youngsters Tom Gilbert and Griffin Neame are also both in isolation after travelling to nearby Magnetic Island on Saturday, while their housemate, training squad member Laitia Moceidreke, is also in the same boat.

The Cowboys cancelled Wednesday’s training session leading into Saturday’s clash against the Knights in Newcastle after consulting with the NRL, with players and staff sent home to isolate.

According to a statement from North Queensland, “none of the three Apollo Register members breached any protocol as the Cowboys were under Level One restrictions at the time.”

Townsville, Magnetic Island and south-east Queensland have been locked down by the Queensland government until at least Friday as the state goes through another COVID-19 spike.

The Cowboys are due to fly to Newcastle on game day, while their Queensland Origin representatives Valentine Holmes and Kyle Feldt had been scheduled to rejoin their club teammates on Wednesday after observing 48 hours of isolation after game two.

NSWRL competitions cancelled

The NSWRL announced on Tuesday night most major and community competitions in the greater Sydney region would be cancelled for the next two weeks, with the finals series for the Harver Norman NSW Women’s Premiership modified to a top four and clubs affected by major competition matches receiving one point for a draw.

Those competitions are currently scheduled to resume on the weekend of July 17.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.
©NRL Photos

Level 4 protocols enacted

The NRL has announced a return to Level 4 protocols in a bid to ensure public safety and the continuity of the competition just three days out from the opening match of Round 16.

Level 4 protocols, which governed the resumption of the competition after the initial COVID-enforced suspension last year, dictate that players must remain at home unless training, playing or completing an essential household task and visitors are not permitted into the homes of players or officials.

The Storm announced on Tuesday that they will return home to Victoria on Tuesday evening after seven weeks on the Sunshine Coast.

The club initially planned to stay in Queensland for 12 days in May because of a succession of away games, but their time at Twin Waters resort was extended after a COVID outbreak in Victoria forced the state into lockdown.

The Storm said they plan to travel to Newcastle on Thursday before facing the Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium that night.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said when the announcement was made on Monday that the additional COVID measures were implemented in the interests of both the competition and the community.

“When the competition resumes on Thursday night, players and officials will be under the same protocols as they were when the competition successfully resumed on May 28 last year,’’ Abdo said. 

“It’s clear the virus is spreading quickly and these measures provide an additional safeguard to ensure the competition can continue.

“Our players, officials and clubs united last year to ensure no risk to the competition or the community and I have every confidence the same will apply as we work through the current challenges.”

“I want to sincerely thank the players and clubs for the way in which they continually adapt to the changing COVID environment.”