Vaccination Deadline Looms for Rugby League Player

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
November 8, 2021 Updated: November 8, 2021

Rugby league player, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, has until the end of this week to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as state governments continue locking out unvaccinated Australians from venues.

Asofa-Solomona plays for the Melbourne Storm and is the only player on the team resisting the jab.

Across the league however, he is not alone, as fellow National Rugby League (NRL) players, John Asiata (Bulldogs), Dylan Walker (Sea Eagles), Api Koroisau (Panthers), and Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys) have expressed reluctance about getting the vaccine.

The governing NRL has refused to mandate vaccination. However, organisers must still grapple with a slew of health restrictions imposed by Australian state governments.

On Nov. 9, authorities in Queensland handed down new restrictions on unvaccinated individuals in the state, barring them from entering restaurants, clubs, and sporting venues from Dec. 17, or once 80 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated.

The move brings the state in line with Victorian authorities who have mandated that all athletes must be vaccinated to work.

The NRL has revealed that around 20 to 24 players in the competition remain unvaccinated.

Melbourne Storm CEO Justin Rodski said discussions were ongoing with Asofa-Solomona and with three weeks needed between jabs, the first dose needed to be administered this week to meet that deadline.

“He’s still got a little bit of time to make his decision on whether or not he wants to be vaccinated and we’re really hopeful he does and he can return to training on Dec. 7 and begin his preparations,” Rodski said, AAP noted.

He also said the situation would be similar if the NRL followed the lead of the Australian Football League (AFL) and set a vaccine mandate across the code.

“Now each individual club is required to work through it and each club has a very different set of circumstances it needs to consider,” he said.

The AFL has mandated that all players and staff must be vaccinated by mid-February.

Deni Varnhagen, a registered nurse and AFL women’s player, has been placed on her team’s inactive list for the upcoming season after refusing to receive the jab.