Broncos in ‘COVID breach’ after banned pub session
Up to 10 Brisbane Broncos are under investigation by police over possible breaches to COVID restrictions in an incident that could put the NRL season in jeopardy.
The Courier-Mail can reveal a group of players are being investigated for socialising at the Everton Park Hotel earlier this month in breach of the league's strict agreement with Queensland Health.
It comes as officials - and even the Premier - warned the league it was on its last chance following a series of breaches involving players and coaches in recent days.
It is understood the Everton Park Hotel investigation is in the hands of police.
Witnesses have told The Courier-Mail "up to 10" players were allegedly gathered at the pub - including embattled player Tevita Pangai Jnr.
Pangai Jnr was involved in a separate COVID breach at the weekend after he attended the opening of a barber shop linked to the Mongols bikie gang.
CCTV footage revealed the star player took a personally signed Brisbane jersey to the shop to give to a mate.
The Broncos are set to sack Pangai Jnr - tearing up his $650,000 contract - despite him saying he was there to get a haircut.
In another COVID bubble breach, Brisbane trainer Alfie Langer and conditioning duo Ryan Whitley and Blake Duncan were stood down after they attended a birthday bash at the Caxton hotel.
The venue is under police investigation for breaching health directives for not complying with a COVID plan after Langer was snuck in the back of the venue.
NRL teams must operate under strict rules - essentially confining them to their homes, training and games - because they are coming into contact with players who have travelled from interstate coronavirus hotspots.
Teams travelling into Queensland have been given exemptions from quarantine, provided players and coaches remain within a "bubble" and don't interact with the community.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk issued a stern warning two days ago that teams doing the wrong thing were putting the season in jeopardy.
"I will be reminding the NRL the future of the season is in their hands. Everyone has to do the right thing," she said.
"Nothing is more important than protecting the health of Queenslanders."
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys also issued a stern warning in recent days, saying the agreement with the Queensland Government "could be withdrawn any day".
"We will increase financial penalties to act as a deterrent because these people are being selfish," he said.
"It's concerning because the whole competition is at stake."
*Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jnr has been stood down and is set to be sacked after attending the opening of a barber shop on Saturday linked to the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang.
*South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett was fined $20,000 and stood down for 14 days after he had lunch at a restaurant in inner-west Sydney.
*St George Illawarra forward Paul Vaughan was stood down for 14 days and handed a $10,000 sanction for having breakfast at a cafe.
*Brisbane trainer Alfie Langer and conditioning duo Ryan Whitley and Blake Duncan were put on a "COVID hold" and fined $5000 each after they attended a birthday bash at the Caxton Hotel.
*Two Newcastle Knights players, Starford To'a and Simi Sasagi, were put on "COVID hold" after they attended a game against the rules. The club self-reported the breach. They have since returned to training after the risk was deemed "negligible".
Originally published as Broncos in 'COVID breach' after banned pub session