The National Rugby League (NRL) has today issued breach notices to the Brisbane Broncos club and 10 players for failing to comply with the game's biosecurity protocols.
The breach notices propose the Brisbane Broncos club and players be fined a combined total of $140,000. The notice proposes the Broncos club be fined $75,000 and each of the club's full-time players fined 5 per cent of their salary, totalling $65,000, for attending the Everton Park Hotel on August 1. The club's three development players at the venue will have a portion of their fines suspended.
At the time of the breaches Broncos players were permitted to dine at restaurants and cafes but were not permitted to sit in pubs and gaming areas.
The players sanctioned are:
- Jake Turpin
- Kotoni Staggs
- Ethan Bullemor *
- David Fifita
- Corey Paix
- Josh James*
- Tyson Gamble*
- Keenan Palasia
- Sean O'Sullivan
- Corey Oates
*Indicates development list players who will have a portion of their fines suspended.
In reaching the decision, Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo considered all information obtained by the Integrity Unit.
"We have taken our time to thoroughly investigate this matter so we could gather as much evidence as possible to determine exactly what happened at the venue,'' he said.
"It is our view that this breach involved a significant failure of the club to properly administer the League's biosecurity protocols."
Mr Abdo said the players would face significant financial penalties.
"There are two aspects to every biosecurity breach. Firstly, a biosecurity assessment is carried out by our experts to determine the risk of infection to other players and the general community. In this case it was determined that the risk was negligible given the conduct of the players, the timing of disclosure and the lack of community transmission in Brisbane. As such, the advice from our experts was that there was no need for players to be placed on a "COVID Hold".
"In other cases, players and officials who breached protocols in or around hotspots in NSW were placed on a 14-day "COVID Hold" because infection rates in those regions are much higher. Those decisions were based on a biosecurity risk assessment, not an NRL suspension.
"The biosecurity assessment of each contravention of the League's protocols will often give rise to different outcomes based on the specific facts of each contravention. The second phase, being the League's approach to sanctioning players, officials or clubs, will focus on financial penalties in most cases.
"Today's sanctions send another clear message to all players, officials and clubs that breaching protocols will not be tolerated."
The NRL thanks Queensland Police and Queensland Health for their assistance during the investigation.