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NRL hands down fines for biosecurity breaches

The NRL have issued breach notices proposing fines to Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett, Dragons prop Paul Vaughan and three members of the Broncos coaching staff including Allan Langer for breaking biosecurity protocols.

The breach notices propose that Bennett be fined $20,000, to be paid in full, Vaughan be fined $10,000, to be paid in full and three members of the Broncos coaching staff be fined $5,000 each, to be paid in full.

Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the sanctions took into account various factors including each person’s level of responsibility within their club, their remuneration level and factors surrounding the incidents. 

“Strict adherence to our biosecurity protocols are vitally important. Players or officials who breach these protocols face missing matches and significant fines,’’ Abdo said.

Broncos legend and long-time trainer Langer became the latest coaching staff member to be caught up in a breach of COVID-19 protocols on Friday and did not travel to for the clash with the Rabbitohs.

The Broncos released a statement on Friday afternoon to confirm Langer and two other football staff members - Ryan Whitley and Blake Duncan - attended a private function in Brisbane and would be required to undergo a COVID-19 test as a precaution before being allowed to return to the squad's bubble.

The announcement came before the Broncos boarded a chartered flight for Sydney on Friday afternoon for their clash with the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium.

It is understood they attended a function to mark Langer's birthday - the former international turned 54 on Saturday - with only a few people in a private dining room upstairs at the Caxton Hotel in Brisbane.

It came less than 24 hours after Rabbitohs coach Bennett and Dragons prop  Vaughan were stood down after they breached protocols.

Coaches react to COVID-19 protocol breaches

The recent chain of events this week has not impressed Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, who took aim at those who are putting the "multimillion-dollar" NRL business at stake.

"They're just tough times at the moment but under tough times you find out the true character of people," Stuart said on Friday before the news on the Brisbane trio was announced.

"I'd love to go to the pub and have a beer with my mates, I'd love to go out for lunch or go out for dinner with the family but you can't.

"The NRL have had to jump onto it very quickly and they've got to make an example of it because everybody understands the rules and everybody is consistently made aware of it.

Stuart: It’s a multimillion-dollar business at stake

"I know our people here feel like they're a nuisance because they're continually telling the boys.

"It's just a common occurrence every day for the boys to go and get a selfie, a fan comes up and wants to get a photo or a signature, it's very much a reaction, it's a habit. Those things are a little bit different to going to a restaurant.

"It's a multimillion-dollar business that's at stake here and we've just got to be very mindful of that."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said there was enough support and education around NRL teams to ensure biosecurity measures were met.

"I think we've all got a bit of an idea of what might be right and what might not be right. It's always best to check with your footy manager or COVID marshal that's with every team.

"That's the most important thing. There are rules there and we've all got to abide by them. What we can probably learn out of it is that we're aware and do know what the rules are.

NRL news wrap: Bennett, Vaughan in isolation

"Sometimes you may take things for granted and not actually know that. At times they were confusing but we're at the stage now if you're going to do something that might be out of the norm you just check the rules."

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary wouldn't be drawn on Bennett's indiscretion but added the period of confusion had ended at least a month ago.

"I'm not going to dump on Wayne, it is what it is," Cleary said.

"[Previously] I can see how that was a little confusing because it was the period before the Victorian outbreak where society was really starting to loosen up.

"Our bubble had been eased off a bit so there's but once it's been reined back in again you pretty much can't do anything. I don't think that's so confusing."

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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.

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