Canterbury players Dylan Napa and Brandon Wakeham are set to miss at least one game and could be in trouble with the NRL for attending an exposure site in Bondi’s Covid cluster.
The NRL revealed late on Thursday that Napa, Wakeham and youngster Aaron Schoupp had been ordered to isolate and instructed by NSW Health to undertake an immediate Covid test.
The trio attended The Royal Hotel in Bondi on 20 June, a venue where a person who tested positive for the virus is known to have attended.
At the very least, Napa and Wakeham are almost certain to miss next Saturday’s clash with Manly given health orders insist they isolate for 14 days regardless of the test result.
That could open the door for Kyle Flanagan’s return to the NRL, with Wakeham having replaced him since he was dropped early last month. But former Queensland State of Origin prop Napa, half Wakeham and Schoupp could find themselves in bigger trouble with the league.
Their visit to the pub appears to be in contravention of a directive issued by the NRL on 17 June to all Sydney-based clubs in which players and staff were told not to attend any restaurants, clubs or bars in the Waverley local government area.
While the three players isolate, the remainder of the Bulldogs squad will be unable to train until the test results are known.
The NRL said none of the three players are known to have been in contact with any Origin players ahead of Sunday’s game two in Brisbane, nor are they believed to have been in contact with representatives of any other club.
The ongoing outbreak in Sydney has resulted in all clubs in the Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Central Coast areas being placed on level-three biosecurity restrictions, effectively returning them to last year’s bubble.
The news came just hours after the Sydney Roosters’ clash with Melbourne became the first NRL match moved as a result of the Covid outbreak. Next Thursday’s clash will now be played at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle rather than the SCG, while other clubs begin planning for further ramifications.
The Bulldogs, Warriors, Penrith and Wests Tigers also have home games in Sydney next week, but none are yet eying moves with reduced crowd capacities a likely outcome.
If the 50% capacity limits were to stay in place that would come as a big blow to the Panthers and Tigers, who were both close to selling out next week’s matches. Leichhardt Oval’s capacity would drop seismically, given restrictions on the hill would limit fans to one person for every four square metres.