Swine Flu: NRL feeling the effects

North Queensland have joined Brisbane in quarantining their Origin stars this week amid fears of a potential Swine Flu outbreak.<br><br>The Cowboys have told Johnathan Thurston, Luke O’Donnell and Matthew Scott to steer clear of the club until Thursday, while coach Neil Henry and trainer Billy Johnstone have also been quarantined because of their involvement with the Queensland team.<br><br>All came into contact with Bulldogs and Maroons prop Ben Hannant who became the first player to contract the potentially deadly virus after reporting flu-like symptoms two days after last Wednesday’s Origin opener.<br><br>North Queensland executive director downplayed talk of a crisis but said it was important that the club take precautionary measures ahead this week’s clash with St George Illawarra.<br><br>“I’ve taken the advice of our club doctor and he said to send them home and quarantine them until Thursday, so that’s what we’re doing.<br><br>“It’s a precautionary measure only.<br><br>“I read something this morning suggesting the game could be in crisis but I think that’s way over the top.”<br><br>Asked how the loss of three key players and two members of the coaching staff would affect their preparation, Parr said: “It’s not a huge problem. <br><br>“Johnathan and Luke were having Monday and Tuesday off anyway, so it could be worse. <br><br>“The blokes that are involved in Origin are used to disruptions this time of year so while it’s inconvenient I don’t think it’s going to affect us too much.<br><br>“In Neil Henry’s case a lot of his work early in the week is taken up in front of his computer anyway so he can still do that.<br><br>“You just have to cope with the cards you’re dealt.”<br><br>Brisbane took similar measures this morning by quarantining their own Origin reps – Darren Lockyer, Karmichael Hunt, Israel Folau, Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday and NSW halfback Peter Wallace – for 72 hours to ensure any potential threat is contained ahead of their blockbuster against the Bulldogs this weekend.<br><br>But there are no such concerns in Melbourne with chief executive Brian Waldron claiming today that he wasn’t worried by the potential for Swine Flu outbreak in the NRL despite boasting a number of players that played alongside prop Hannant in last week’s State of Origin opener.<br><br>Melbourne had four players – Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Dallas Johnson – in camp with Hannant and Brisbane five, while Storm halfback Cooper Cronk appeared alongside the Bulldogs front-rower on Thursday night’s The Footy Show.<br><br>But Waldron insisted today that any potential outbreak was out of his control and the Storm wouldn’t test players unless they reported any symptoms.<br><br>“Our doctors have been aware that [Swine Flu] is in the country but other than that there isn’t much you can do about it,” Waldron told NRL.com.<br><br>“You can’t quarantine people when they haven’t got it.<br><br>“You can only take the same measures as the whole country is at the moment but nobody has reported anything yet so as far as we know everything is okay.<br><br>“If we were carrying an issue internally we would certainly deal with it but there is not much else we can do other than sit back and hopefully see that it doesn’t make its way through the club.<br><br>“It’s a serious issue and one that has impacted across the country but we’re pretty comfortable with where it’s at here.”<br><br>Melbourne’s star contingent trained alongside team-mates this morning without concern but the Brisbane six were only allowed to watch from afar.<br><br>North Queensland players didn’t attend training at all this morning as the Cowboys’ quarantine measures kicked into full gear.