Brisbane bosses give in to player power - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brisbane bosses give in to player power

By Wayne Heming 11/06/2009 10:44:39 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen said player power had convinced the club not to boycott Friday night's blockbuster NRL clash with the Bulldogs.

Cullen had earlier threatened to forfeit the two premiership points because of fears players quarantined for most of the week were at a higher risk of injury than usual.

He said the club's 72-hour swine flu quarantine was not due to finish until 10pm on Friday night which was why the club was so opposed to the game going ahead.

"Our medical staff indicated that they thought with no preparation all week there was a real risk of injury due to the physicality of the game that is the NRL," he said a statement released on Thursday night.

"So when we made that indication to the NRL it was because we were of the opinion that it would just be impossible to play (Friday) night and some sort of compromise would be better for the players.

"But after talking through the issue more tonight with the management, club directors and coaching staff, we thought if the players wanted to play, we would let them play.

"That is why we have made the decision to support them ...

"We hope the Broncos fans will also come out and support them because it is going to be a huge effort just to have got a squad on the field."

The Broncos had earlier asked the NRL to postpone the game until Sunday.

But the NRL said 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 was concerned about their physical preparation.

Had they followed through on a threat to withdraw from the game, the Broncos would've been 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.

Apart from any NRL fine, the Broncos would have also faced a massive financial hit for pulling out of the match because they would still would've had 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.

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

"I've been in constant contact with Bruno. When I spoke to Bruno 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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