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2022 Rabbitohs Rumours, Signings and News

callmack1

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From the Sydney Morning Herald,

NEW NRL PROTOCOLS FOR 2022 SEASON

NRL players have been banned from indoor venues such as pubs, nightclubs and even cinemas, and will need people visiting their house to pass a rapid antigen test beforehand as all 16 clubs were ordered to delay their return to pre-season training.

The escalating COVID-19 threat across the country has prompted the NRL to impose a series of hardline restrictions on its players, even though there’s still two months until season kick-off .

A handful of unvaccinated players have been barred from having any guests at home or visiting other households, while they’ve also been asked to exercise alone in public.

It’s the most significant step the NRL has taken since COVID-19 cases surged in NSW, Victoria and Queensland last month as the code prepares for minimal disruption to its 2022 season and the NRLW competition, due to begin in late February.

Part of the measures include a return to the bubble-like protocols which ensured the 2020 and 2021 seasons were completed, with sources familiar with the situation saying all players had been told not to enter pubs, bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys and cinemas until further notice.

Restaurants and cafes are still permissible, as long as players sit at outdoor seating and are provided table service. That includes outdoor areas at pubs and clubs.

And while most of the general public celebrated the festive season with large private gatherings, the NRL has ruled all personnel on its Apollo register must only have up to 10 visitors to their home per day - and each visitor will be required to provide a negative RAT before attending.

A partner or child of a player who doesn’t reside with them will only be allowed indoors if they can also show they’re COVID-19 free with a rapid test.

While the measures may seem drastic, the NRL wants to mitigate any risk when its 480 players return to pre-season training this week after the festive period and holidays interstate. It’s why they told all 16 coaches they had to amend pre-season schedules for players to return to training no earlier than Thursday as they try to bed down procedures.

All players will be asked to take a RAT before entering training each day, and even members of their own household will be need to prove they’re COVID-19 free the day before players return.

The dwindling number of unvaccinated players in the NRL will have even harsher restrictions imposed upon their training return, including separate bathroom and eating areas as well as segregated indoor gym use. They will only be allowed to leave home for essential household tasks, and not visit another household or have visitors to their home.

Ex-Bulldogs player John Asiata is the only person to walk away from his contract because of his vaccination stance, later signing with English secondtier club Leigh.

The NRL will soon give thought to how it will deal with the inevitable mid-season outbreaks which will see players sidelined from matches while they isolate.

Already this summer, players from the Big Bash League, NBL and A-League have been stood down after contracting the virus. Australia’s Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes Test after contracting COVID-19 .

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has urged Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys to allow a club’s entire list - including development players - to be available for selection to cover COVID-19 absences in 2022.

The English Premier League has already been forced to postpone 18 fixtures over its busy festive period due to COVID-19 spread, but mandated clubs would be required to play if they had 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper available.
 

callmack1

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From Zero Tackle,

Players, NRL to hold critical COVID-19 protocol talks​


The NRL Players' Association is hoping to sit down with league heads in order to smooth over the competition's pre-season COVID-19 protocols as players look to seek a way through their work-life balance.

All 480 players are required to avoid indoor venues such as restaurants, cafes and shopping centres in order to combat contracting the disease from a public outbreak.

These stricter protocols were introduced ahead of the new year, with players taking their frustrations to social media.

"WTF? Double-vaxxed to just stay the same?," Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell recently wrote.

Backlash from the playing cohort has led Rugby League Players' Association to seek critical discussions with the NRL in order to find common ground on COVID-19 protocols ahead of Round 1.

RLPA boss Clint Newton told AAP that NRL chief Andrew Abdo must be open to negotiating new guidelines.

"We have the tools at our disposal to create a safe workplace and we want to get things in a position where players can live their lives like the rest of the community," Newton said.

"COVID-19 protocol restrictions are something players are frustrated with and we share those frustrations with the players, particularly in situations when they have been implemented without players being consulted and properly communicated with.

"This gives us a great opportunity, which is what we've requested from Andrew Abdo, is to get together now.

"The importance of protocols over the last two years are not in dispute. This is now about the restrictions that are over and above the community.

"Players rolled up their sleeves and got the jab and I don't think what the players are asking for are outrageous requests. Given the fact how much compliance falls on players, giving them a forum to ask questions is paramount."

The NRL is currently battling with growing case numbers across the competition as clubs look to return to training this week.

More than 100 players are understood to have contracted the virus, with sides looking to find the best avenue in easing back into momentum ahead of the new season.

Clubs are preparing to be without players throughout the home and away season as the nation continues to battles with record case numbers.

"We have been talking among a few of the coaches and medical staffs and we reckon we will have to be without three to six players most weekends if the current trend continues," an unnamed coach recently told Wide World of Sports.
 

callmack1

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From Zero Tackle,

NRL reportedly considering drastic salary action under new COVID plan​


NRL stars could be set for a pay cut in 2022 as the NRL attempts to work out how it stays afloat, and with an on-field product as COVID runs rampant across Australia.

A majority of NRL teams have already had their pre-seasons impacted, with players forced into seven days of quarantine after contracting the illness which has caused a now two-year long global pandemic with no signs of slowing down.

An opening up of society and state borders, as well as the more transmissible omicron variant, has led to plenty of players contracting the bug.

The Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders were impacted directly before Christmas with their operations shut down early, while most other clubs are now impacted, with the Gold Coast Titans reported to have more than half of their top 30 missing when pre-season training returned after Christmas and the New Year.

It has led the NRL into working on new strategies to ensure teams will be able to field squads each week, with a proposal from Raiders' coach Ricky Stuart - to increase squad sizes and allow every player at the club from reserve grade to jersey flegg level - to be able to play first-grade during the season if it's needed, seemingly what the NRL could go for.

According to The Daily Telegraph there may also be an increase in squad sizes across the board, which could see the end of development contracts.

If squad sizes increase, it's understood development contracts would be the first to go, while all clubs may be asked to review their salaries for others in the 30-man squad.

An overall squad size increase would mean development contracts need to be upgraded to minimum wage, however, the report suggests most teams simply won't have the funds available to afford that.

It means players could be in for a pay cut during 2022 in an attempt to keep the competition going and ensuring that at no stage will a team have to forfeit due to a lack of players.

The news comes after players were recently dealt increased restrictions as the pandemic takes hold, earning the ire of some who believed they wouldn't be subjected to a third-straight year of restrictions following their vaccinations in the off-season.
 
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