Raiders’ NRL duo remain unvaccinated

Alex Mitchell |

Canberra chief executive Don Furner says two of his club’s players remain unvaccinated just six weeks out from the NRL season.

And the Raiders boss admitted it was a “good question” when asked if he felt comfortable sending players to Sydney for the NRL All-Stars match, as COVID-19 continues to disrupt preparations for the new campaign.

While the league has not mandated vaccination, measures in Queensland and Victoria would stop unvaccinated players taking the field.

Canberra’s first interstate trip comes on March 19, when they head to the Sunshine State to take on North Queensland.

“That’s D-day for us, and we’ll talk to them leading into that,” Furner told AAP.

It had previously been reported four Raiders – including star prop Josh Papali’i – were refusing vaccination, however Furner confirmed that number had halved.

He said the club had not pushed the players to get their jabs, but instead allowed them to make their own health decisions.

Regarding February 12’s All-Stars game, Furner said strict protocols were necessary to lower the risk of sending players into the respective camps.

“Most coaches don’t like them going anyway because you could lose them to injury, now you could lose them from camp for a week as a close contact or with the virus,” he said.

“It’s about minimising the risk, they’ve got strict protocols for it that are even stricter than our protocols.”

He said allowing clubs to draw on their juniors to fill in COVID absences was “the only real solution” to allow the competition to continue through positive cases.