Rugby league great Brad Fittler has criticised NRL clubs for their lack of communication after a number of teams were caught up in COVID-19 breaches in recent weeks.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett was last week stood down for a fortnight and fined $20,000 for dining at a Sydney restaurant, while Knights young guns Starford To’a and Simi Sasagi were nearly sent into isolation for attending a local rugby league game.
Most notably, the Brisbane Broncos were involved in three separate incidents when up to 10 Broncos players visited a pub, while forward Tevita Pangai Jr attended the opening of a barber shop and coach Anthony Seibold broke biosecurity protocols for a family emergency.
Fittler said if he was in charge of the NRL he would instruct the club’s biosecurity chief to conduct daily briefings to prevent further breaches from players.
The Sydney Roosters legend criticised clubs for not doing enough and said the current system is “difficult” for players to stay on top of as biosecurity protocols continue to change.
“From the very start, if I was in charge, I’d have someone, whoever the bio chief was, speak to the players every day,” Fittler told Wide World of Sports’ 2GB radio.
“You’d have to be there every day, just saying ‘these are the rules, this is what you can and can’t do,’ because it would be very difficult.
“Not giving anything to the players here, but I’m just saying it would difficult unless the club was absolutely on top of it. So, I take a lot of blame back to the club.
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“I feel like it’s changing every now and then, that the person who is the bio chief, would need to be communicating so well and so often.
“Because these blokes sometimes don’t care about the rules, other times they don’t know about them and other times they’re just naive and don’t want to know. You’d have to be jamming it down their throats.
“Especially with what’s happening at Brisbane, it’s obvious what’s happening off the field is happening on the field.
“There’s no direction and no one willing to put themselves out at all.”
Fittler added that he wasn’t surprised Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the club wouldn’t sign Pangai following his incident off the field.
“Trent Robinson I’m sure would barely know Tevita Pangai Junior,” he said.
“But he just knows what they’re doing and what he’s seeing on the field, and what he’s listening to off the field.
“There’s just no way he’d want to bring those players into that environment they’re building at the moment. It takes too long to build that.”