The Queensland Government has confirmed three Gold Coast Titans players who refused a flu shot have been stood down while the sport's flu-jab policy is reviewed.
This afternoon, Queensland's chief medical officer revealed three players – Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Peats and Brian Kelly — had been stood down by the NRL while the ARLC reviews its stance on anti-vaccination.
According to Nine News, the trio are unable to train until they either have the flu vaccination or provide a genuine medical reason why they cannot.
About 10 players across the NRL reportedly refused the flu jab, and Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys said anyone who didn't sign a waiver would not be allowed to play. He said if they did sign it, they would be permitted to play.
However, new reports today suggested Cartwright and fellow objectors would be stood down even if they do sign the waiver as the NRL faces pressure from state governments to comply with strict health guidelines.
Nine sports presenter Cameron Williams and Channel 7 rugby league reporter Chris Garry reported the Government is going to stand by a "no jab, no play" stance endorsed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week.
Peats explained why he initially refused the flu jab on Twitter, also revealing he would now accept the vaccination.
"Seen my name in the media regarding getting stood down for no flu jab. It has nothing to do with some other players and being anti-vaccination. Myself, wife and both my sons are vaccinated," Peats posted on Friday afternoon.
"I had a bad experience in 2012 when I was at Souths when I had the flu shot, that's my only reason behind it.
"I've spoken to the club and will get the jab this afternoon. I had the option to say yes or no and I chose no for that reason. If I knew it would blow up I would have said yes straight away."
When asked about the dilemma, Morrison asserted the relevant state governments were responsible for determining health requirements, but conceded the push for NRL players to be vaccinated is "entirely reasonable".
Earlier, Titans coach Justin Holbrook confirmed Cartwright had signed the controversial flu jab waiver. However, it appears he would not be allowed to play if he continues to refuse receiving a flu shot.
Attention now shifts to the NSW and ACT governments to see whether they follow suit and push to stand down the Manly Sea Eagles and Canberra Raiders players who refused a flu jab.
QUEENSLAND MINISTER SLAMS NRL
Before those explosive reports, Queensland Health Minister Stephen Miles accused the NRL of breaking its own plan to safely resume play amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"This was their plan, they came up with this, they put it to us," he told ABC radio on Friday.
He said chief health officer Jeannette Young would meet later in the day with the NRL to voice her concerns.
"Jeannette assessed it as being a good plan, and one that was safe. It's their plan and they have to implement it," Miles said.
Asked if the NRL had broken a promise, the minister said: "It's not a good look, frankly, that so quickly into this agreement they've not been able to implement their own plan."
He also warned the NRL could not "arbitrarily" change their plan for the safe resumption of play, and that Dr Young would have to give her approval.
"They have responsibility to implement the plan that has been approved," Miles said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated Miles' remarks, saying, "No individual, no organisation, is above the health advice."
Players from Manly, Canterbury, Canberra and the Gold Coast are believed to have refused a shot and must now decide whether they will sign the amended waiver.
The Daily Telegraph reports those players included Gold Coast star Cartwright, Manly trio Dylan Walker, Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake, Canberra's Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine and Canterbury's Sione Katoa.
V'landys said earlier he was comfortable restarting the competition with only 3 per cent of NRL players expected to sign the amended waiver, but maintained those who don't agree to terms will not be allowed on the field.
If the latest reports are correct, his hand may be forced and even those who sign the waiver won't be allowed on the paddock if they don't receive a flu shot.
"A clause has been taken out. It used to say they believe by not having it (the vaccination) that would put them medically at risk — well they don't believe that," V'landys said.
"If any player doesn't execute the waiver they will not be able to play."
TALLIS DISAPPOINTED BY PLAYERS REJECTING FLU SHOT
Rugby league great Gorden Tallis says he'd be disappointed by Bryce Cartwright's decision to refuse a flu shot if he were a Titans teammate, claiming the NRL star's stance could derail the game.
Cartwright was arguably the most outspoken player who rejected a vaccination which was part of the strict biosecurity measures that helped allow the NRL competition to resume on May 28 from a coronavirus shutdown.
Tallis – who has worked as a Gold Coast volunteer consultant – said he wouldn't be impressed with the anti-vax stance if he was a teammate.
"Publicly they are going to back him because everyone is entitled to do what they want," he told Fox League Live.
"But privately I would be really disappointed because the game could be derailed so easily.
"It would safeguard your family and team by going and getting a flu shot … (that is) getting hand delivered to them.
"I had my flu shot for the first time this year because of my family and where the world is at the moment."
V'landys doesn't believe the season restart is at risk given the latest drama.
"Our medical advice is that because the vast majority have been vaccinated it doesn't put anyone at risk," he told AAP.
"A handful is not going to make that much of a difference.
"All they are doing is causing themselves inconvenience because every time they get a sniffle or sore throat they are going to have to get a test."
Meanwhile, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart argued his three grand final stars did not wish to make a political statement.
"At no stage did they want to create any media attention," Stuart told the Daily Telegraph.
"So it's not an anti-vax crusade. No one is making a statement. This was about their own private and personal principles.
"They're actually rattled by the attention that it's created … There were couple of sentences in the waiver that they didn't believe in.
"They could have signed it but it was against their principles. They don't want to create any animosity or harm the game in any way. I know that for a fact."