Canberra star Josh Papalii insists he will wait until the NRL club travels to Queensland before he has to “deal” with his decision to reject the flu shot.
NRL players refusing to be vaccinated are currently banned from playing in Queensland under the health coronavirus guidelines set by the state government.
That means the likes of Papalii, as well as Raiders teammates Iosaia Soliola and Joseph Tapine, could be missing when the club travels to the sunshine state.
In his first interview since his stance was revealed, Papalii was reluctant to elaborate on the reasons behind his decision.
“I just don’t think I have to (get the jab) at this point,” Papalii said on Wednesday.
“I think it’s a personal thing for me and my family and for me to explain the reasons, I don’t think that would be right.
“I did have my reasons and my family reasons as well. My medical status isn’t the best, for my kids as well. I’ll probably keep that personal.”
The revised draw released last week has Canberra scheduled for away games against North Queensland in round 12 and Gold Coast three weeks later.
Papalii, who will play his 200th match when the competition resumes this week, will reconsider his position prior to their trip to Townsville.
“We’ve still got a bit of time until those Queensland games. I’ll look after that type of thing when it comes to it,” he said.
“My focus is purely on training and on the game this weekend and hopefully enjoying my 200th game with a win.”
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker suggested that the possible absence of the trio would allow the club to rotate its squad during a restructured season.
The league has scheduled 18 straight regular season rounds, without a traditional representative round break, before heading into the finals.
“It’s a long season,” Croker said.
“And with the amount of travel we’ve got and the work we have to do travel-wise, it’s silly for us to look any further forward than the week we’ve got in front of us.”
Papalii’s stance could also impact his availability for Queensland, whose State of Origin series against NSW has been delayed until after the season.
The NRL has yet to announce the venues for the three-game series, however it is anticipated at least one match will be played at Suncorp Stadium.
Should the Queensland government refuse to ease restrictions, it could force Maroons coach Kevin Walters to leave out one of the state’s best front-rowers.
“It’s still a long way away. When that times I’ll deal with it then. For the time being, just focusing on the Raiders at the moment,” Papalii said.
“There’s a lot of young quality players coming through for the Maroons as well. Kevvie would have no problems there selecting his team.”