Nine Melbourne Storm players have quickly rushed to Victoria over the weekend to beat the midnight quarantine deadline, while a number of Canberra players have been asked to remain in the nation’s capital, per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Several NSW-based members of Melbourne’s squad were notified early Sunday afternoon to leave their families in favour of heading south of the border in order to avoid having to self-isolate and potentially miss pre-season training.
As many as nine Storm players were able to beat the deadline, with star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen and new recruits Reimis Smith and George Jennings hurrying to Victoria in the late hours of the weekend.
Anyone that would have arrived in Victoria after Sunday night would have been forced to quarantine for two weeks, with Melbourne’s training scheduled to resume on January 4.
Players were not required to make the trip down south as they are currently on annual leave, with many already having spent a prolonged time away from their families due to this season’s unprecedented circumstances.
Storm football boss Frank Ponissi lauded the players who decided to cut their stay short and return to Melbourne in time.
“Our boys have been tremendous, the decision [with the borders] was made at midday, then they all got on planes or drove down over the border before midnight,” Ponissi told the Herald.
“‘Paps’ was among them, but the two I want to make special mention of is Reimis and George because those two were not due here until early January, but in the space of a few hours made a decision to pack and get down here without knowing anyone here.
“They’ll now spend Christmas without family.
“We couldn’t force any of the boys to come back early from holidays, it was an individual decision. As a club all we could do was present all the facts about what would happen if they couldn’t get back here before midnight last night. We were also mindful Christmas was this week. So we’re in awe of all of them with how they were able to make such a big decision so quickly.”
Coach Craig Bellamy is understood to have stayed in Queensland, a state that will not require patrons to quarantine once arriving in Victoria.
Star winger Josh Addo-Carr will remain in Sydney however, with the 25-year-old not expected to return to training until closer to February.
The Melbourne flyer signed a four-year deal from 2022 with Canterbury last week and will play out the 2021 season in purple.
Meanwhile, the Raiders have asked their Sydney-based players to remain in Canberra over the holiday season.
Canberra chief Don Furner revealed that players had opted to remain with the club despite being given the option to see family.
“It looks like all the boys have chosen to stay, and while we told them they were free to head home, we pointed out they would be forced to isolate when they returned,” Furner said.
“We’ll now look to put on a Christmas lunch for the boys who stay behind so they’re not on their own.”