Soliola gets exemption to play in QLD

Sia Soliola is free to play for Canberra in next week’s preliminary final against Melbourne after gaining an exemption to travel to Queensland.

Soliola was one of three Raiders who refused the flu jab on the competition’s restart, which initially stopped him from playing in Queensland due to state government conditions.

Fellow Raiders Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine also rejected the vaccination, but were granted exemptions on medical grounds when Canberra played there in August.

Canberra did not seek an exemption for Soliola at the time as he was injured, but one was since submitted and approved by the Queensland government.

It means no player was denied from playing a match in the state this year, after initial fears the no-jab no-play policy could rob teams of talent for trips up north.

Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa got the needle when required after initially rejecting it, while Manly forward Addin Fonua-Blake was given late clearance to travel in July.

Former Gold Coast utility Bryce Cartwright received a medical exemption in May after at one stage being stood down from training, while Brian Kelly had the vaccine after being put in a similar position.

Soliola’s inclusion is a big relief for Raiders fans, given their forward pack has regularly been stretched to the limits this year.

They have no serious injury concerns with Jordan Rapana brushing aside an apparent sternum injury midway through Friday night’s win over the Sydney Roosters.

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