Soliola, who has made 211 appearances and 39 tries since his move to the Raiders in 2015, emphasised that they were not making a stand against the vaccine.
The Sunshine State’s Government made it mandatory for NRL players to receive the flu shot to play when the season recommenced on May 28th. However, Queensland Health later granted exemptions for Papalii, Tapine and Manly’s Addin Fonua-Blake.
If Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government refused these exemptions, it would have been a difficult ride ahead after it was announced Melbourne would be hosting the prelim at Suncorp Stadium.
Star forward Soliola said on the topic of why he didn’t get the flu shot that he had an unfavourable reaction to it previously and therefore, wouldn’t be receiving it.
In response to Adam Pengilly of The Sydney Morning Herald’s question about whether he was worried he wouldn’t play in Queensland again this year, Soliola said he was understanding of why things were the way they were.
“We were very understanding of why things had to be done. It’s really nice they got the clearance for it, especially at that time because there was a lot of uncertainty,” said Soliola.
“No one knew what was going to happen, especially way back in March. Precautions had to be made.
“For sure [it has brought us closer]. We were in the spotlight for that reason, but by no means were we part of a campaign. We individually had our own experiences and to be there for each other was good.”
Papalii on the other hand recalled how he and his daughter both had terrifying experiences with the vaccine.
The destructive forward explained how he had been hospitalised after the vaccine several years ago, with his daughter also having a similar reaction all these years later.
“I knew my history and my family’s history,” he said.
“I just can’t get it. What people read and what people watch, it’s not a big deal to me for them not to understand why I don’t get it.
“[Gold Coast forward] Bryce Cartwright was going through a lot at the time. He came out publicly and we tried to keep it under wraps as it wasn’t a big deal for us down here. I had my reasons and I think that’s what’s good about it, why I don’t have to come out to say why or why not.”
Tapine, who scored one of the best individual tries Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has seen, as well as securing over 200 tackles this season said he would’ve been “shattered” had he not been able to play.
The forward recalled how he didn’t want to miss the mid-season matches between the Cowboys and Titans but was thankful for the outcome from Queensland Health.
“I didn’t want to miss any games with the boys and I would have been shattered if I couldn’t [travel to Queensland],” Tapine said.
“If it came through it came through… [But] everything fell in place.
“That was one of the big things I used to say to my mum growing up, ‘everything will fall into place’.”
— cam 'two-bit journalist' wilson (@cameronwilson) August 31, 2020