Covid vaccine rule, Peter V’landys, Luke Thompson, Bulldogs

Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys says he will be content if the NRL can reach 95 per cent of its players and staff vaccinated against COVID-19.

The NRL is refusing to mandate vaccinations for its employees despite the league’s biggest rival – the AFL – last week taking that leap to making jabs compulsory to participate.

Over the weekend it was revealed English import Luke Thompson is “butting heads” with Canterbury and is refusing to receive the vaccine, despite the Bulldogs issuing a memo to staff and players the club expects all employees to roll up their sleeve.

“We’ve got to stay united as a rugby league family,” V’landys told Nine News.

“I don’t want a situation where there’s us and them. We’ve got to be together.

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“I’m just hoping that hysteria in the community about vaccinated and unvaccinated people doesn’t come into the rugby league world.”

V’landys was asked whether players who refuse the jab are “putting their contracts at risk”.

“No, I don’t think so,” he replied.

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“Once we get to a certain point of vaccination we have protection.”

The vaccination debate is one that is already hijacking sport internationally.

The world’s best male tennis player, Novak Djokovic, is refusing to disclose his vaccination status and risks not being let into Australia for the Open in January.

In America a number of NBA stars, led by Kyrie Irving, are being sidelined over their refusal to get the jab.

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V’landys hopes no NRL clubs take matters into their own hands and sideline – or sack – anyone for not getting vaccinated.

“I think (the clubs) have got to be careful… because we haven’t mandated it. And we believe that we can put measures in place that can allow our vaccinated players and unvaccinated players to be together,” he said.

“All our advice tells us there is no great risk if 95 per cent of our players are vaccinated (and) the other five per cent aren’t.

“Some clubs are extremely high, well above the 95 per cent… Sharks and Parramatta are two clubs I can recall that are high in their vaccination rates. There are other clubs that have fallen behind.”

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