NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has explained that unlike other competitions and sectors, the league will not be adopting or enforcing a mandatory vaccination stance for its players and officials.
Still, with contrasting policies having already been employed by airlines, accommodation options, and state governments, it may not be long before this relaxed view is tightened.
Speaking on auzbiz.com.au's 'The Front Office', Abdo revealed that while he was keen to harvest a "safe working environment", a 'no jab, no play' policy was not the competition's preferred option to re-opening their doors across the country.
“In terms of answering the really hard question — what is our formal policy going to be for the new season? — the Commission has made this clear; we’re not taking an approach of making this mandatory, consistent with the way the federal and state governments are,” the league boss said.
“It’s definitely not mandatory to be vaccinated. However, we need to make sure in continuing the competition that we’re creating a safe working environment."
Though the implementation of this strategy is out of step with that of the AFL, Abdo also claimed that those at NRL headquarters were currently constructing a dual set of laws for vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes.
“So we’re busily working on the protocols for the players that are vaccinated and a different set of protocols for the players who are not vaccinated," he continued.
“Hopefully we are talking about a very small group of players that choose not to get vaccinated. I’d imagine they would have some pretty rigorous requirements around what they will be able to do in order to train and play."
Abdo also stated that while remaining considerate to the differing wishes and beliefs of the competition's 480 players, those that choose not to have a pair of injections could well be omitted by forces beyond his control.
“Of course, this could be taken out of our hands by public health orders in various states or by airlines. We’ve already seen in Victoria that all professional sportspeople entering a stadium need to be vaccinated," he divulged.
“There will be repercussions for those who choose not to be vaccinated, but it’s not our approach currently as the governing body to mandate it.
“Between now and the off-season we will have a very clear set of guidelines for clubs and players getting back to training safely, for those in the process of getting fully vaccinated and those who aren’t yet vaccinated.”
While names such as Josh Papalii and Bryce Cartwright have publically claimed they will not be seeking inoculation, Fox Sports reported on Thursday night that just shy of 90 percent of the competition's players have received at least one dose and only two percent of the league's off-field staff remained unvaccinated.