NRL warns bubble bursters of future pain

·3-min read

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has warned players are risking not only this year's competition but the earnings of future stars as the NRL investigates 12 St George Illawarra players for a potential breach of biosecurity protocols.

The NRL and NSW Police spent Sunday investigating Dragons players who broke stay-at-home orders to attend a party at forward Paul Vaughan's house on Saturday night.

Thirteen people were issued with $1000 fines from the police for breaching the public health order, after they were called to Vaughan's Shellharbour house.

"Four men - aged 21, 30, and two aged 24 - were also spoken to and it was determined they were not residents," a NSW Police statement said.

"They were all given directions to leave and return to their homes.

"Following inquiries, police have since spoken to a further seven men - aged 26, 28, two aged 30 and three aged 25 - who had also attended the home.

"The 11 visitors were unable to provide a valid reason for being away from home and they along with the two home-owners will be receiving $1000 PINS."

The situation could have dire implications for the Dragons' season, given if any person from outside the NRL bubble was present each player would need to be placed in two weeks' of isolation.

Even if there wasn't a biosecurity need to sit players out, there is every chance the NRL could still come down with bans to go with big fines for a blatant bubble breach.

It is the third breach in the space of a fortnight after five Canterbury players became close contacts of a COVID-19 case when they visited a Bondi pub two weeks ago.

Cronulla centre Josh Dugan was also fined $25,000 last week and sidelined for 14 days for visiting a Sydney restaurant before the city's lockdown began.

It comes with the NRL in continual negotiations with state governments, seeking access across closed borders to allow the competition to continue.

"The players have to understand that if they don't follow the protocols there will be no game," V'landys told AAP.

"And if there is no game not only does it affect their salary and wages, but also the salary and wages of players in the future.

"Because it will have a dramatic financial effect on the finances of the game.

"They have to understand they are playing not only for themselves but their fellow players, future players and all the people who make a living out of rugby league.

"That is enough of an incentive for them to follow the protocols."

V'landys stressed he did not want to pre-judge the Dragons players as investigations continued.

But the trio of incidents does come after players were relatively well behaved during last year's season-long restrictions.

This incident also marks the second time Vaughan has found himself under investigation for a biosecurity breach, after missing two games for visiting a cafe last year.

State of Origin players Ben Hunt, Andrew McCullough and Tariq Sims are not believed to be among the group, clearing them to join camps this week.

The NRL expects to have a clearer picture on where Game III will be played this week, with Newcastle the favoured venue.

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