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Broncos cleared to play but may still face sanctions over pub visit

Brisbane players have been cleared by Queensland police of breaking the state's public health conventions and the NRL has confirmed they will be able to continue playing and training while under still under investigation by the Integrity Unit.

The Broncos issued a statement on Wednesday saying the club believed up to 10 players who had a steak lunch at Brisbane's Everton Park Hotel did not breach Project Apollo protocols.

The NRL and Queensland Police Service have each launched an investigation into the matter, with police authorities confirming its own enquiries "found no breach of the Chief Health Officer's public health directions".

The NRL's investigation remains ongoing, but acting CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed the Broncos contingent would not be placed in a COVID-19 hold on the advice of biosecurity experts.

As a precaution, all players involved in the August 1 outing will undergo a COVID-19 test, but provided those results return as negative, they can continue playing and training in the meantime.

Brisbane travel to Canberra on Saturday to take on the Raiders.

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Key to the Integrity Unit's ruling is CCTV footage from the August 1 outing, as the governing body determines whether players mixed with members of the public by entering the sports bar and poker machine areas of the pub.

If the investigation finds that the code's biosecurity protocols have been breached, Abdo warned "strong sanctions" will be handed out by the NRL.

"We are conducting a detailed investigation to ensure we have all available evidence before determining the need for sanctions. It is important we have all the facts and evidence before making a decision," Abdo said.

"Right from the start of this pandemic we have made it clear if protocols are breached players and officials will face strong sanctions. Our actions in recent days have confirmed that."

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The NRL investigation follows Tevita Pangai jnr's indefinite standing down by the NRL, and $30,000 breach notice for "multiple biosecurity breaches", while three club staffers, including champion half Allan Langer, were also fined $5000 each last week for attending a private function for Langer's birthday.

Brisbane had played Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on July 17 and were in a 14-day hard lockdown under NRL biosecurity rules as they apply to teams from Queensland which play against sides from a COVID-19 hotspot in Sydney.

That lockdown ended at midnight on July 31 so the club understands it was then under more relaxed rules.

In their statement, the Broncos said they were aware of reports of an alleged COVID breach by their players after they were reported to Queensland Police and the NRL's Project Apollo.

"The club has spoken at length to the players involved, who attended the hote.l for lunch on Saturday, August 1 – after players and staff inside the club’s 'COVID bubble' had transitioned back into more-relaxed Project Apollo Queensland restrictions," the statement said.

"The team had played Cronulla at Suncorp Stadium the night before, which marked the end of a 14-day hard lockdown put in place after the team travelled to Sydney for the round 10 game against the West Tigers on July 17.

"The players were of the understanding that lunch at the hotel was permissible under the more-relaxed restrictions which they were under at the time."

The Broncos said they had been working with the NRL on the matter for more than a week and provided the information requested.