A pub lunch earlier this month has turned out to be very costly for Brisbane with the NRL issuing $140,000 in fines for breaches of COVID-19 protocols.
The Broncos have been fined $75,000 while the 10 players have each been fined five per cent of their salaries, totally $65,000, for attending the Everton Park Hotel on August 1.
While the players were free to dine at restaurants and cafes at the time of the breaches, they were not permitted to sit in pubs and gaming areas.
“It is our view that this breach involved a significant failure of the club to properly administer the league’s biosecurity protocols,” NRL acting chief executive Andrew Abdo said.
The players fined for contravening the league’s COVID-19 restrictions include regular first-graders David Fifita, Kotoni Staggs, Corey Oates, Corey Paix and Jake Turpin.
Three development players were also among the group and will have a portion of their fines suspended.
Broncos chief executive Paul White said the club accepted the sanctions, noting the pub visit hadn’t been approved by the club nor were officials aware it was taking place.
“It is an expensive lesson for us all, but it reinforces how important these protocols are to the survival of our competition and community health,” White said.
The fines are the latest off-field drama for the Broncos in a year to forget for the once powerhouse club, which has slipped to second-last on the ladder after a run of 11 losses in their past 12 matches.
Powerhouse forward Tevita Pangai Jnr was stood down by the NRL indefinitely and fined $30,000 after he attended the opening of a Brisbane barber shop, in contravention of the NRL’s biosecurity regulations.
Three staff members, including former star player Allan Langer, were also fined and stood down for attending a private function at a Brisbane hotel.
Under-fire coach Anthony Seibold has also been self-isolating after he removed himself from the team’s bubble following the loss to South Sydney earlier this month to deal with a personal matter.
Queensland police cleared the players who attended the pub lunch of any biosecurity breaches, allowing them to be available for last weekend’s match against Canberra.
Abdo said there was no need for the players to be stood down due to a low health risk but their actions had still breached league regulations.
“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,” Abdo said.
“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.”