NRL players pushing for relaxed protocols

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NRL players pushing for relaxed protocols

The Rugby League Players' Association will push for a new range of COVID-19 protocols and recommendations during a meeting with NRL bosses.

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RLPA chief executive Clint Newton and various members will put forward their “well-considered” case for easing the player restrictions to ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys and NRL boss Andrew Abdo.

Relaxing COVID-19 protocols isn't the only item on Wednesday night's agenda, with the RLPA also keen to address the wellbeing and education budget for the men's and women's players.

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As it stands, vaccinated NRL players – on Apollo A registers – are banned from indoor nightclubs, bars, pubs, indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and bowling alleys and other public indoor social gatherings.

Vaccinated players are, however, permitted to dine outdoors at restaurants, cafes, bowling clubs and pubs provided they're in a group of 10 or fewer people and table service is offered.

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The NRL has recommended, but not mandated, Apollo A personnel only visit another home if 10 or fewer people are attending in a preferred outdoor setting after they have provided a negative rapid antigen test.

Apollo A personnel are also advised against having more than 10 visitors at their residence per day.

Newton recently said the NRL's unvaccinated player count was down to “single digits”.

Those on the Apollo B register are under strict protocols, essentially keeping them house-bound except for essential travel reasons.

The current rules require unvaccinated players to complete two RATs on days they enter their club training facility and mandates KN95 mask usage whenever away from their residence – including at training – except when exercising, eating and drinking or for essential communication.

While unvaccinated personnel are permitted at training, clubs must maintain separation between the Apollo A and B registers where they can.

The NRL has strongly recommended sessions that limit the time vaccinated and unvaccinated players are in physical contact or a close indoor space, including by holding separate gym, wrestling and video sessions.

Where practicable, Apollo B personnel are to use the bathroom and shower facilities at a separate time from the Apollo A register – after cleaning – or have their own facilities.

After a gruelling couple of seasons involving lockdowns and bubbles, several players have publicly expressed their frustration at again having to follow restrictive protocols.

Even with the rules in place, more than 80 per cent of players at Sydney clubs have reportedly contracted COVID-19, including the entire Sydney Roosters squad.

The NRL is determined to ensure disruptions are limited in the upcoming season to meet broadcasting commitments.

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