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Roberts, Smith free to play but sanctions may follow over fight night

Wests Tigers centre James Roberts and Eels utility Will Smith will be free to play this weekend despite NRL officials investigating possible biosecurity breaches after the pair attended Wednesday night's Tim Tszyu v Dennis Hogan fight.

Both Roberts and Smith may face sanctions from the league but any punishment will be handed down after round four.

The NRL emailed clubs on Wednesday afternoon advising that players were not permitted to attend the bout after enacting level-two protocols earlier in the week.

Rabbitohs stars Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell were also at the fight at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre but attended with NRL approval.

The pair were granted an exemption to be part of Tszyu's entourage in his biosecurity bubble, provided they wore masks and socially distanced throughout the night.

It is understood Roberts did not seek an exemption to attend the fight and did not wear a mask.

Walker and Mitchell trained with South Sydney on Thursday morning to prepare for their Good Friday clash against Canterbury.

Souths stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker.
Souths stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Under the new restrictions, players must wear masks while indoors at public venues.

Wests Tigers officials were understood to be explaining the circumstances of Roberts's attendance to NRL counterparts on Thursday.

Both Roberts and Smith have been named to play in the Easter Monday Tigers-Eels blockbuster.

The NRL issued a range of punishments including fines and suspensions for COVID-19 protocol breaches last year.

Canterbury players have been under heavier 'bubble' restrictions – akin to the COVID-19 protocols of 2020 – since Brisbane went into a snap lockdown at the start of the week after an outbreak in the Queensland capital.

All Bulldogs players and staff from their travelling party to play the Broncos last week have undergone COVID-19 tests after Thursday's captains run and are awaiting results before taking on South Sydney.

Provided those results are negative, it's expected Bulldogs players will join the rest of the NRL under level 2 protocols after the Rabbitohs clash.

The Broncos and Titans have relocated to Sydney this week, with Brisbane under strict biosecurity rules after being granted Victorian government exemptions to play the Storm in Melbourne.

Broncos players have been restricted to their hotel since arriving on Monday afternoon except for training and gym sessions. 

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