No jab will force sackings: NRL club boss

League, NRL, Rugby League

Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis has warned NRL players could have their contracts torn up if they refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, saying they may be unable to fulfil their obligations as employees.

Hagipantelis, the principal of Brydens Lawyers, is also the major sponsor of Sydney Kings and is currently dealing with the vaccination debate within the NBL.

In recent days Travis Trice (Illawarra Hawks) and Tai Webster (NZ Breakers) have both been released from their contracts for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Domestic and international travel restrictions once Australia begins to open up could make it next to impossible for unvaccinated people to cross borders.

It will also have an impact on professional athletes and sporting organisations, and Hagipantelis says it could constitute a reason to terminate a player’s contract.

“This is a discussion I’ve had with the owner of the Kings, Paul Smith,” Hagipantelis told SEN Radio.

“It is a concern and it’s a challenge that will face all employers.

“These organisations, the NRL and basketball, are employers of players who have a contractual relationship with the organisation to provide a particular service.

“That service, as provided for in the contract, would include interstate and international travel.

“The fact that they would be unable to fulfil their contractual obligations by reason of their choice not to get vaccinated means that the contract is frustrated and perfectly entitled for the employers to terminate.

“Will that occur in the NRL? I’m absolutely convinced it will.”

The NRL is yet to announce their stance on mandatory vaccinations for the 2022 season although has already flagged that travel between states and into New Zealand might not be possible without a jab.

Vaccine passports are expected to be made essential for domestic and international travel by state and federal governments.

It could leave clubs to make a call on whether to stand players down for games they’re required to travel for, which was also the case when the flu vaccine was required for NRL players to enter Queensland in 2020.

Some players caved under pressure to accept the flu vaccination, while others were granted an exemption from the Queensland government to travel.

The difficulty for the NRL will be how much resistance they face from the playing group after the mandatory flu vaccine caused an uproar from a minority last season.

In recent months a small number of NRL players have taken to social media to express their concerns over mandatory vaccinations, calling for freedom of choice instead.


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