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Titan Cartwright needles NRL by refusing orders over flu vaccination


Anti-vaxxer and Gold Coast Titans back-rower Bryce Cartwright has refused an NRL directive to all players to be vaccinated against the flu under protective measures ahead of the competition restarting after the COVID-19 shutdown.

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Cartwright has refused the flu vaccination in line with the strong anti-vax stance he shares with wife Shanelle, including not vaccinating their two young children.

The flu shot directive for all players falls under the NRL’s Project Apollo Player Protocols, which have been put in place ahead of training resuming for all NRL clubs on Wednesday.

Cartwright’s refusal is the first chink in the strict biosecurity measures the NRL has specifically sought to impose for the return of the game in the COVID-19 crisis environment.

Cartwright’s stance is not only at odds with the NRL directive, but also general advice from health authorities urging the public to get flu shots to protect themselves from the double whammy of flu and coronavirus. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk received her flu shot in front of cameras on Tuesday 28 April to encourage all Queenslanders to get vaccinated.

All NRL players were subject to the order. To request a waiver or relaxation on any of the strict biosecurity protocols, players would be required to speak to NRL chief medical officer Dr Paul Bloomfield before training with the squad.

Cartwright had not been granted a waiver from the NRL Monday.

It is understood the NRL anticipated that some players would refuse the vaccinations, however, it had not been confirmed whether the vaccinations would be waived for those players.

NRL players completed Apollo Player Protocol workshops on Monday, with training for all squads expected to resume Wednesday.

The NRL Telstra Premiership is scheduled to resume on May 28.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said every player participated in the education day to understand the biosecurity protocols.

He said the NRL had provided each club with a dedicated COVID-19 liaison officer to help oversee implementation of the protocols.

Cartwright and his wife have publicly promoted their anti-vax stance and have not vaccinated their son Koa, 2, and one-year-old daughter Naia.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.


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