The last two seasons have been like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
For over half of the 2020 Super League campaign and the beginning of the 2021 season, we had to face the prospect of games behind closed doors and with no supporters. Meanwhile, a number of games were cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreaks throughout Super League squads. This even led to a strange looking table determined by points percentage.
Down under, the NRL wasn’t forced to endure the same length of time without crowds initially but whilst Super League has been relatively unscathed during the latter half of the 2021 campaign, the NRL has faced persistent troubles including being forced to relocate the competition to Queensland.
The reason Super League was able to conclude the 2021 season with minimal difficulty whereas the NRL struggled comes down to the vaccination programme in the UK. But as the Australians catch up with Britain in terms of vaccinations, the NRL has faced the problem of players unwilling to receive the vaccination which could cause further issues with stadium bans in Victoria and Queensland for the unvaccinated meaning players who choose not to receive the jab will be unable to compete in the two states.
According to News Corp, 15 NRL players are still holding out on being double jabbed including high profile stars like Nelson-Asofa Solomona of Melbourne and Canberra’s Josh Papalii. Perhaps the biggest name on the list is North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo who is regarded by most as one of the world’s best forwards and earns $1 million a year for his barnstorming performances for the Cowboys. That said, according to Fox League, the Cowboys have received second hand confirmation that the Tongan intends to receive the second jab to be ready for the new campaign.
Meanwhile, even the reigning Premiers Penrith are facing difficulties with this issue with Api Koroisau unwilling to receive the jab prompting high performance manager Matt Cameron to confirm the Panthers intend to talk to Koroisau this week.
However, the most bizarre vaccine dispute has to be in Canterbury where new recruit John Asiata’s time as a Bulldog could be over before it starts as he refuses to be vaccinated reportedly telling the club he’d rather work in construction than take the vaccine.