Jai Arrow has been ruled out of next Wednesday’s third State of Origin clash in Newcastle for COVID breach, with reports he invited a woman into Queensland camp on the Gold Coast.
The NRL confirmed on Thursday Arrow will leave camp and commence 14 days isolation at home.
Arrow was fined $35,000 and issued a two-game ban, which will include Origin III and one South Sydney game.
“I know I have let a lot of people down, including my teammates, coaching staff and fans right across the rugby league community,” Arrow said n a statement.
“For this I am truly sorry. I have fully cooperated with the NRL integrity unit, and I understand the scrutiny and criticism coming my way.”
NRL boss Andrew Abdo said : “There are no excuses for breaching the protocols, they are our licence to continue playing – players have to comply, or we will all face the consequences.”
“I want to be very clear, any material deliberate repeat offence by a player will result in us removing that player from the approved bubble roster.”
The NRL said it notified Queensland Health as soon as it was made aware of the breach. The Queensland camp will continue on the Gold Coast as scheduled with additional 24-hour security added to the team hotel to ensure the squad’s compliance with the game’s Biosecurity Protocols.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday that “Queensland’s State of Origin preparations have be thrown into turmoil with Jai Arrow rubbed out of game three for allegedly bringing a woman back to the team hotel.”
It is the latest issue in a string of dramas first-time Maroons coach Paul Green has endured during this series.
Injuries and health scares to key players dominated the build-up to their series opener in Townsville, before would-be debutant Ronaldo Mulitalo was ruled out on the morning of game two because of eligibility concerns.
With Francis Molo already set to replace the suspended David Fifita, Arrow’s exclusion is likely to pave the way for Brisbane prop Tom Flegler’s debut.
Queensland have lost by a combined 76-6 across the first two games, putting the Blues on track to register the most dominant series sweep in Origin history.
The Arrow investigation comes the same week the NRL fined 13 St George Illawarra players a combined $305,000 for breaking NSW public health orders by partying at now-sacked Dragons prop Paul Vaughan’s house.