Gold Coast Titans centre Brian Kelly and teammate Bryce Cartwright's chances of playing in the 2020 National Rugby League season have been dealt a major blow after Queensland's Chief Health Officer ruled out providing exemptions to the flu shot on grounds of 'belief'.
The pair are the only two players to be stood down after the New South Wales Government rejected Queensland's "no jab, no play'" policy.
On Tuesday, Dr Jeanette Young said that NRL players would only be exempt from receiving the flu shot for medical reasons, while religious and other views on the vaccine would not be considered.
“(It’s) no different to the exemptions that I provide for children who are attending childcare or for people going into aged care,” said Dr Young.
“Although the NRL didn’t put that in their initial submission to me, I thought that was reasonable, that the NRL players and support staff and coaches and officials have that same exemption that I provide for visitors going to aged care facilities, or, indeed, for children," she said.
"Because if children aren’t vaccinated, you would be aware there are certain things they can’t do as well.”
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Under the public health policy, interstate players who have also refused the flu shot for non-medical reasons will not be allowed to play rugby league in the Sunshine State.
Canberra trio Joseph Tapine, Josh Papali'i and Iosia Soliola; Manly's Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake; and Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa have all rejected the flu vaccination.
Dr Young said she would only provide exemptions for players who have had adverse reactions to the medication.
Last week, Titans hooker Nathan Peats, a Koori man from South Sydney, took to his Twitter account to explain that was the reason behind his initial decision to refuse the jab.
"It has nothing to do with some other players and being anti-vaccination," he said.
"Myself, wife and both my sons are vaccinated. 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."
Titans latest coach, Justin Holbrook, told media yesterday that he was preparing to play the season without both Cartwright and Kelly.
"It is not ideal. You want all your players here and you want them training, as a coach. So it will be great if this situation can be resolved quickly," he said.
"If not, we have to prepare for a game to play in three weeks and we have enough players to fill those spots,
"It could be resolved in a couple of days, it could be weeks and they may not play for the rest of the season."
On Saturday, Indigenous All Star representative and Cronulla captain Wade Graham said players who have been refusing the flu shot should think about putting their teams first.
“If it was a pure personal preference, I’d say it’s a team sport boys,” he told Triple M radio.
“It’s not an individual sport and you need to do things sometimes that are not in your comfort zone, or that are not in your best interests, for the greater good of the team."
The NRL said it accepted the Queensland Government's position.
Jodan Perry is the host of NITV's flagship Rugby League program 'Over The Black Dot' which airs every Tuesday night at 8.30pm on NITV (Ch.34).