‘A wake-up call’: Bulldogs trio isolating after breaching NRL’s Covid rules

Peter V’landys says three Canterbury players being thrown into two weeks of self-isolation after visiting a Covid-19 hotspot is a wake-up call for the entire NRL. Dylan Napa, Brandon Wakeham and youngster Aaron Schoupp will miss at least one week of football after visiting the Royal Hotel on Sunday night in – the same time as a known case.

The trio have been sent into a fortnight of isolation as per public health orders, even with at least one of the group’s results believed to have come back negative. The remainder of Canterbury’s squad have also been sidelined from training until all test results are confirmed, after coming into contact with the group this week.

But there could still remain bigger issues for Napa, Wakeham and Schoupp. All NRL players were urged not to visit pubs, clubs and restaurants last week, particularly in the eastern suburbs where the outbreak emanated from.

Their visit has therefore left Bulldogs officials frustrated, given at the very least it will rule Napa and Wakeham out of next week’s clash with Manly. And while V’landys will not rush to judge them and is pleased they at least checked in using the QR code, he urged others to now heed the warning with a bubble since put in place.

“We gave them a directive last Thursday not to go to pubs, clubs or restaurants, and in particular in hotspots,” V’landys told AAP. “And not only did they breach it, they went to a hotspot. Bondi is in Waverley. Out of every negative you find a positive and it’s a wake-up call for all of us. Not just the players but all of us.”

The three players are not known to have been in contact with any Origin players ahead of Sunday’s game two in Brisbane, nor are they believed to have been in contact with representatives of any other club. V’landys also stressed the incident was a one-off as players had largely complied for the past 12 months.

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But it does come at a crucial time for the NRL as they consider contingencies amid the Sydney outbreak. Government restrictions were on Friday extended until the end of next week, meaning Penrith’s home clash against Parramatta will be played with a 50% crowd at best. Tickets for that match had already gone close to selling out at normal capacity.

The Roosters have already moved next Thursday’s clash with Melbourne to Newcastle from the SCG as a result of the outbreak. The NRL has several back-up options planned that could result in several teams moving state in the worst-case scenario if the situation worsens or borders cannot be crossed even while in the bubble.

“Whichever way we have to step we are ready to step that way,” V’landys said. “We have contingencies for all aspects. We are spending every day looking at and preparing for the worst. Hopefully the worst never comes but we are preparing for it.”

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