Outspoken anti-vaxxer Gold Coast Titans player Bryce Cartwright has refused to follow the NRL's call for all players to vaccinate before the competition returns on May 28.
The 25-year-old has been one of the NRL's most prominent critics of vaccines, and his wife Shanelle revealed last year the couple would not vaccinate their children Koa, 2, and Naia, 1.
The NRL made compulsory flu shots part of the biosecurity player protocols that have been brought in to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
However despite the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the use of vaccinations, Cartwright refused to take the flu shot, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Sky News host Peter Gleeson said the Titans should sideline Cartwright because he was putting his teammates and opponents on other teams at risk. "The NRL and Gold Coast Titans have no choice with Cartwright — they just have no choice," Gleeson said.
"He either gets on the vaccination bus or he gets off the team. He either gets the jab or he forgoes his lucrative contract. No jab, no money. No jab, no play. If he feels so principled about his anti-vax, he'll take the no jab option."
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But Shanelle Cartwright hit back on Instagram on Tuesday night. "People have the freedom to say what they like, just like we have the freedom to choose which medical procedures we undergo, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding," she wrote.
"Our kids are a picture of health. They've never had an ear infection, never had a chest infection or bronchitis, they have no neuro-developmental disorders or auto-immune disorders and are rarely ever sick.
"They've never had a round of antibiotics or any other pharmaceutical drug for that matter (yes, including Panadol). As parents we do our best with what we know, for some, health comes in a needle and it works for them.
"What we're doing is going seemingly well seeing the state of their health. So if it's not clear, we're not anti anything. We stand for medical freedom and the right to choose."
The Cartwrights found support from ex-NRL star Paul Gallen. "I'm not against the flu shot, but I just think if they don't want to have it, they don't have to have it," he told 2GB's Wide World of Sports Radio.
"I know this is a special situation because of the circumstances that we're in, but they haven't received it in years gone by, hopefully they do receive it, but if they don't receive it I don't see why they have to receive it.
"If they don't want to put it into their body, they don't have to have it."
The NRL's biosecurity experts believe those with the flu are more likely to suffer severely from the coronavirus.
NRL officials will entrust the league's chief medical officer Dr Paul Bloomfield to authorise exceptions to the vaccinations on a case-by-case basis.
Cartwright revealed last year that her husband took some convincing as she tried to explain the "harms of vaccination" as she sees them, but he eventually came around.
"I remember he was so defensive when I first brought it up and got angry at me for even suggesting that we shouldn't vaccinate," Cartwright said.
However in June of last season, the Titans confirmed Cartwright would miss a clash with the Broncos after he came down with the flu.