The NRL All Stars match will feature one unvaccinated player, Maori co-captain and Canberra Raiders forward Joe Tapine.
The Raiders forward is yet to gain a medical exemption, which would allow him to postpone getting the vaccine for up to four months once contracting COVID.
It means that, as things stand right now, Tapine will be unable to play matches in Queensland and Victoria. The Raiders are currently slated to play Round 10 against the Sharks (magic round), Round 14 against the Broncos, Round 17 against the Storm and Round 20 against the Titans in the two sates, meaning he would miss four games.
The 27-year old is wary of the cautious people that may be hesitant to come into close contact with him, but is sticking strong with his vaccination stance.
"It’s a personal preference, I’ve had reactions to past vaccinations, and I’m a bit cautious at the moment," Tapine told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"That’s my stance. I’m not anti-anything. If you know me, with anything in my life I’ll look into everything first and make sure I’m 100 per cent about it before I make a decision. I didn’t feel like it [previous vaccinations] helped me. I’m on the fence at the moment."
"You get direct messages [on social media], people get up you, but you have to try and ignore it. People need to know other people have personal lives and there is stuff they don’t know about. You take it all in your stride."
Fellow NRL players in Melbourne Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona and North Queensland Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo have been granted a medical exemption, but have come under fire for their views on the vaccination.
The Maori leader claimed he will have to weigh up his options with his family in regards to decisions surrounding the vaccine.
"I’ll see what goes on and look at all the regulations," Tapine said.
"At the end of the day, my wife [Kirsten] and I will sit down and make a decision about what I want to do."
"I’ve had COVID already. I think that has natural immunity. I’m not scared of getting it, but I know it affects people that might have bad health, so I have to be careful of that. Sometimes people get scared of people who are unvaccinated, so I have to be aware of that as well."
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) February 8, 2022
Tapine claims that the relationship between himself and his Maori teammates is strong and they don't have a problem with him being unvaccinated.
The Maori All-Stars face the Indigenous All-Stars on Saturday night at Commbank Stadium, which is sure to be an enticing match with both teams eager to representative their cultures proudly in the annual matchup.