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Two more Bulldogs sent for COVID-19 tests after biosecurity breach

Two more Bulldogs players, Sione Katoa and Corey Waddell, have been sent for COVID-19 tests as Sydney clubs prepare to host games in empty stadiums after the NSW Government announced a lockdown until July 9.

The Bulldogs confirmed that Katoa and Waddell attended the Royal Hotel in Bondi last Sunday with Dylan Napa, Brandon Wakeham and Aaron Schoupp, with that trio having since returned negative tests for COVID-19.

The hotel was attended by a person who has tested positive to COVID-19.

Canterbury's squad will not train until the test results of all players are known. The players have not been in contact with representatives from any other club nor does it impact any State of Origin player.

Players at the NRL's nine Sydney clubs, as well as the Central Coast-based Warriors, are now under the same COVID-19 biosecurity protocols they endured when the 2020 Telstra Premiership resumed on May 28 last year.

Sydney Roosters have already moved Thursday night's match against Melbourne to Newcastle, while Penrith and Wests Tigers had begun refunding tickets for their home games next weekend.

Maroons v Blues - Origin II

No crowds will be allowed at games in Greater Sydney until the order is lifted, while other stadiums in NSW will be limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Players who have been placed back in a bubble will undergo daily temperature tests and are unable to leave home except to train or access essential services.

They will be subjected to daily temperature checks and training and playing venues will be separated into "clean" and "dirty" zones.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys said the full impact of the NSW Government announcement was being "investigated and analysed".

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

V'landys said that an investigation into the Bulldogs players would be finalised before sanctions were considered and praised other players who had followed COVID-19 protocols.

"They have got to be given due process and natural justice," V'landys told 2GB.

"The good thing is that they used their QR codes when they went to these premises, so they did the right thing there.

"There are 800 players and officials in our bubble and last year they proved how professional and conscientious they were and there was no breach, so I just hope that nobody judges them on just one breach because the players have done a wonderful job on keeping the competition going.

"Their professionalism is not in doubt so this one breach, it is regrettable but I hope people don’t judge it as a whole."

The NRL issued a clear directive to all Sydney-based clubs on June 17 that players and staff were not to attend any restaurants, clubs or bars in the Waverley Local Government area.

Canterbury playmaker Brandon Wakeham.
Canterbury playmaker Brandon Wakeham. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

All clubs in the Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Central Coast areas were placed on level-three biosecurity protocols from Tuesday evening and are not permitted to leave home except to train or access essential services.

The NRL issued a statement to say it will continue to seek advice from its biosecurity experts and NSW Health to ensure no risk to other teams or the community.

On Friday afternoon it was announced that ARLC chairman Peter V’landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo would miss this weekend’s State of Origin fixtures after deciding to return to Sydney in support of COVID-19 protocols.

"We are coming back as I work in the CBD and Andrew is in Randwick," V’landys told NRL.com.

Bulldogs hooker Sione Katoa.
Bulldogs hooker Sione Katoa. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"Accordingly, under the new Queensland protocols we will be required to follow the NSW protocols and stay in our rooms. We thought we would lead by example in following the protocols."

Berejiklian on Saturday announced anyone who lives or has visited the Greater Sydney region, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong, from June 21 would only be allowed to leave home for necessary work or education, participate in outdoor exercise, for medical reason or buying essential goods or services.

The order is in force from 6pm AEST Saturday, running until 11.59pm Friday, July 9.

NSW Origin players, who arrived in Brisbane on Friday, entered a COVID-19 bubble from 1am Saturday, while Level 3 biosecurity protocols will be imposed at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.

This includes temperatures tests for players on arrival at the stadium and the implementation of clean and dirty zones inside the venue.

The NSW Blues have had to recruit a new medical team based in Queensland for Origin II after doctors Nathan Gibbs and Paul Annett and physio Travis Touma were denied entry to the state due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Touma, who is the Sydney Roosters' high-performance manager, and Dr Gibbs, the Manly doctor, live in areas that had been deemed to be COVID hot spots, while Dr Annett was unable to fly north before the border closed on Thursday morning.

"We have had to find two new doctors and a physio," Blues adviser Greg Alexander said.

Canterbury rookie Aaron Schoupp.
Canterbury rookie Aaron Schoupp. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"Both doctors couldn’t make it and also Travis, one of physios and trainers who runs onto the field."

The families of many of the NSW players are also unable to attend the match at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.

All players and staff from Sydney-based NRL teams have been living under Level 3 restrictions since June 17 and clubs were told on Friday that those protocols would remain in place when they returned to training next week.

Canterbury, along with the other 15 NRL clubs, have a break this week due to the Ampol State of Origin series and are due to host Manly at Bankwest Stadium next Saturday.

A clash between the Lebanese Cedars and Malta at Belmore Sports Ground on Saturday was also been called off due to the NSW Public Health orders.