Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright has been granted medical exemption to play in the NRL without taking a flu vaccination.
Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright has been granted medical exemption to play in the NRL without taking a flu vaccination.

NRL anti-vaxxer’s Hail Mary saves career

Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright has been granted medical exemption from the Queensland Government to play in the NRL this season without being vaccinated.

In a desperate attempt to save his NRL career, Cartwright claimed a past bad reaction to a vaccine was grounds for medical exemption.

Queensland's Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young granted the 25-year-old exemption from taking the flu jab, and is free to play and train with his club.

"Bryce Cartwright provided the Club with medical documentation seeking an exemption from the influenza vaccine protocol," the Titans said in a statement.

"This was subsequently passed on to Queensland's Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young for review.

"Dr Young has granted Cartwright an exemption based on medical grounds.

"Cartwright is now eligible to return to training with the playing squad in preparation for the season restart."

 

Cartwright is the only remaining Queensland-based NRL player to have not taken a flu jab after teammate Brian Kelly received the flu shot and returned to Titans training on Thursday.

The pair were ordered to agree to have the shot by Thursday after the Queensland government's strict "no jab, no play" stance before the May 28 competition restart.

Cartwright, whose partner and children are not vaccinated, risked being stood down without pay if he fails to adhere to the Titans' directive.

The influenza immunisation was part of the biosecurity protocols demanded by the Queensland government to allow the league to restart in two weeks' time.

The Titans handed the pair an ultimatum on Tuesday night to either receive the shot - or to be stood down without pay.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier the ultimatum had the impact the NRL was hoping for with Kelly immediately agreeing to have the shot.

The report claimed Cartwright was considering abandoning his beliefs after being faced with the prospect of surrendering $450,000 remaining on his contract, which expires at the end of the 2021 season.

Already sacrificing half his reported wages for the remainder of the 2020 season as part of an agreement between the Australian Rugby League Commission and the NRL Players' Association, Cartwright stands to earn a further $725,000 until the completion of his deal.

If he refuses to submit to the influenza immunisation, his contract could be torn up with a reported payout of $275,000 - a potential loss of $450,000.

Bryce Cartwright is now free to train and play with his club.
Bryce Cartwright is now free to train and play with his club.

On Tuesday evening, the Gold Coast Titans revealed the club had given Cartwright and Kelly two days to make a decision.

"The Gold Coast Titans have made formal requests to Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly to obtain up-to-date influenza and, as required, pneumococcal vaccinations," a statement read.

"Doing so will enable each player to meet the requirements of the Queensland State Government's protocols allowing Queensland-based NRL Clubs to train and play.

"In turn, this will allow both players to resume training and to play with the Titans when the NRL Telstra Premiership resumes on May 28.

"Both players have been asked to notify the Club of their agreement with this direction by Thursday 14 May."

Bryce Cartwright’s wife and children are not vaccinated.
Bryce Cartwright’s wife and children are not vaccinated.

On Thursday, Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold delivered a blunt rebuttal to players refusing to take flu shot.

"You don't like paying $10 for a schooner at the pub but if you want company you got to pay $10," Seibold tweeted.

"Otherwise pay $2.50 for the Hahn Super Dry's at home.

"If you want to play footy, get the jab. If you don't, stay at home."

Canberra's Josh Papalii, Joe Tapine and Sia Soliola, Manly's Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake and Canterbury's Sione Katoa are also reported to be faced with the same ultimatum the Titans issued to Cartwright.

- with AAP

Originally published as NRL anti-vaxxer's Hail Mary saves career