You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Manly centre Dylan Walker.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard has described anti-vaccination campaigners as "just plain stupid and dangerous".

It comes as Manly five-eighth Dylan Walker, one of a small group of NRL players who refused to have a flu vaccination, took to Instagram to claim he was entitled to the freedom of choice to take his stance.

Two Titans players - Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly - were stood down on Friday over their refusal to get influenza vaccinations after the Queensland government voiced its concerns to the NRL.

Walker is part of a small group of players including Manly teammate Addin Fonua-Blake, Canberra trio Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine and Sia Soliola, and Canterbury back-up hooker Sione Katoa who has protested the implementation of mandatory vaccinations. They fall under the jurisdiction of the NSW or ACT governments.

They have signed a waiver to remain compliant under the NRL's guidelines and continue training in preparation for the May 28 restart following the hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sea Eagles prop Martin Taupau and Titans hooker Nathan Peats agreed to have flu shots after stating they had originally not wanted to do so due to having a bad reaction to an injection years ago.

Manly's Dylan Walker.
Manly's Dylan Walker. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

It is not an issue for the Victorian government as Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said on Friday all Storm players and staff had agreed to the flu vaccination.

"I am extremely frustrated generally at anti-vaxxers and the message they send out. It's just plain stupid and dangerous," Hazzard told reporters on Saturday.

"If we listen to their messages, we'd still have polio rife in our community. If they've got a short-term memory all they need to do is look to one of our Pacific neighbours [Samoa], who had a massive breakout of measles and a very high death rate just literally a few months ago.

"I have no tolerance or time for those views, but I'd also say this, in regard to NRL, whilst I do want to see Manly win whatever competition starts up, my advice to the NRL would be you gave certain undertakings to the community and to the government about the basis for recommencement and you have to make sure through your contractual arrangements or other arrangements with the players that you stick to the deal.

"Simple as that."

Walker, in his Instagram post, wrote that had a a right "to choose to deal with our health in ways that feel right to us uniquely".

"We are not all the same, and not all the same things work for everyone. Whether you want to approach a headache with some rest, or with a tablet - is up to you. Whether you want to inject a vaccine or not - is up to you. Whether you eat certain foods or not - is up to you.

"Some things are more controversial than others, but that does NOT mean that everyone should be forced, expected or coerced to do the same thing.

"It is our individual responsibility to self educate, gather various opinions and find solutions that work for ourselves and our families.

"I am not anti anything. I am not giving medical advice. I am standing for freedom to choose and to make decisions for our own bodies."

Titans back-rower Bryce Cartwright.
Titans back-rower Bryce Cartwright. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

Sharks skipper Wade Graham told Triple M on Saturday that it was not an issue for his club but if a player in his side told him that they had objections to the flu vaccination he would ask them why but be advising them to put the team's interests first.

In a situation such as this, Graham - who is an RLPA director - said players had "to not think about your own personal situation and think about the rest of the playing group".

"It's not an individual sport and you need to do things sometimes that are not in your comfort zone or that aren't in your best interests for the greater good of the team," he said.

"That's what great teams are built on.

"I know for me if I don't like a flu jab, if it puts my livelihood at risk, preventing me from making some money to feed my family, I'm getting the flu jab. It's simple in my eyes."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners