Cronulla skipper calls out anti-vaxxers

Sharks' captain Wade Graham has called out anti-vaxxers in the NRL, saying they are in a team sport.
Sharks' captain Wade Graham has called out anti-vaxxers in the NRL, saying they are in a team sport.

Cronulla captain Wade Graham has called out anti-vaxxers who refuse to get a flu shot, saying they should put their teammates above their own personal preferences.

Although the Sharks' squad has been vaccinated, Graham said players who put their individual circumstances above their team should be reminded they play a team sport.

The NRL's restart on May 28 has hit a hiccup with around 20 players refusing to be vaccinated for various reasons, including past adverse reactions to the flu shot and religious reasons.

However, speaking on Triple M on Saturday, Graham said getting the flu shot is a "no brainer", and refusing to do so based on just personal preference goes against a team-first mentality.

"If it was a pure personal preference, I'd say it's a team sport boys," he said.

"It's not an individual sport and you need to do things sometimes that are not in your comfort zone, or that are not in your best interests, for the greater good of the team.

"That's what great teams are built on.

"I think in this situation, you have to not think about your own personal situation and think about the rest of the playing group."

On Friday, Gold Coast Titans confirmed Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly were both stood down for refusing the vaccination after an intervention by the Queensland government.

Fellow Titan Nathan Peats and Manly's Marty Taupau both hesitated to get the shot due to past adverse reactions, but eventually had the injection.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Titans were still awaiting confirmation from Cartwright and Kelly over whether they would agree to be immunised and resume training.

It's understood Dylan Walker, Addin Fonua-Blake, Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine, Iosia Soliola and Canterbury's Sione Katoa all signed a waiver to remain compliant under the NRL's guidelines and continue training.

It has sparked confusion over how different states and territories will enforce the NRL's return to training protocols, and casts doubt over whether unimmunised players will be allowed to play in Queensland.

Graham, who sits on the RLPA's board of directors, said the confusion was always a risk as the game rushed to resume training.

He believes players and clubs could have sacrificed another week of training as a team to ensure these loose ends in the biosecurity guidelines were tied up.

Should the NRL decide to bow to government pressure and enact a 'no jab, no play' policy, Graham says players will need to consider the strength of their convictions against their livelihoods.

"I know for me, if I don't like a flu jab, if it puts my livelihood at risk preventing me from making some money to feed my family, I'm getting the flu jab," he said.

"It's simple in my eyes.

"It depends on how strong their convictions are on an individual level.

"If they want to sacrifice their rugby league game for their personal preference not to get a flu shot, that's their prerogative."

Australian Associated Press