Broncos threaten NRL game boycott - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos threaten NRL game boycott

11/06/2009 07:00:41 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane have threatened to pull out of Friday night's NRL clash with the Bulldogs as they refuse to risk their players' safety after spending most of the week in quarantine.

The Broncos have received medical advice their players face a greater risk of injury after missing three days of training because they were placed in quarantine to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Brisbane had asked the NRL to postpone the game until Sunday, but the NRL announced earlier on Thursday the match would proceed as scheduled despite Broncos fullback Karmichael Hunt being confirmed as the code's second positive swine flu victim.

Hunt's teammate, winger Antonio Winterstein, further clouded the drama when advised by Queensland Health officials monitoring the progress of players to go to hospital for further tests after displaying symptoms of the H1N1 virus on Thursday.

Some Broncos returned to training on Thursday but the club remains concerned about their physical preparation.

If they follow through on their threat the Broncos would be the first team to pull the pin on a top flight rugby league game since seven matches were forfeited when Super League players refused to take part in the ARL competition start in 1996.

It's believed host broadcasters Channel Nine could hit the NRL with a fine for breaching their contractual obligation to provide two Friday night games.

Broncos chairman Darryl Somerville, who could not confirm reports Brisbane would refuse to play, said the club had an obligation as an employer to look after the safety of its players.

"We need to consider our position and get all the facts," Somerville told AAP.

"If we don't think it's safe for the players to play, then we won't play."

Apart from any fine, Brisbane would face a massive financial hit because they would still have to pay a ground hirer's fee and for catering at Suncorp Stadium.

The Bulldogs travelled to Brisbane on Thursday expecting to play, with Queensland prop Ben Hannant a certain starter after overcoming the virus and serving his time in quarantine.

Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen, who is in Melbourne doing a company director's course, was locked in talks with NRL chief operations officer Graham Annesley late on Thursday trying to get the NRL to change its decision.

Annesley said he understood Cullen was unhappy with the NRL's decision.

"I've been in constant contact with Bruno. When I spoke to Bruno earlier today he was clearly not happy with the decision to play but he understands that the NRL has to make these decisions," said Annesley.

He said the decision had been made without any pressure from host broadcasters Channel Nine.

He said it was made on advice from Queensland Health that by game time on Friday night Brisbane's players would have spent sufficient time in quarantine to minimise the risk of any spread of infection.

"We realise that this creates some difficulty for the Broncos in terms of preparation time," Annesley said.

"However this is a wider issue than just rugby league, it's a community health issue and it is something we could be confronting for quite some time to come."

Queensland Health's chief health officer, Dr Jeanette Young, said Hunt's involvement in the clash would be up to the club's doctor.

"It would depend on the assessment of his health by game time on Friday night," she said.

"It's a decision between himself and the doctor that's looking after the team and they will make the right decision depending on his health."

She said she wouldn't expect Hunt to play if he was still showing swine flu symptoms or at risk of spreading the infection.

"Of course not," she said.

"But it's more than that, it's about what's best for his health."

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