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league-NRL players fall foul of strict COVID-19 rules

SYDNEY, Aug 9 – Brisbane Broncos’ forward Tevita Pangai Jr. has been placed in isolation for two weeks after he became the sixth person within a week to breach the National Rugby League’s strict COVID-19 protocols.

Pangai attended the opening of a barber shop in Brisbane on Saturday in breach of the protocols. He was tested for COVID-19 and could face further sanctions, the club said in a statement on Sunday.

“The Broncos are investigating the circumstances around the matter to determine what further action may be taken,” the team said.

It was the second time in 48 hours the Broncos had to address breaches of the protocols, where teams have essentially been in ‘bubbles’ for several months to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Three of the team’s staff, Allan Langer, Ryan Whitley and Blake Duncan were all placed in isolation after they attended a social function in Brisbane earlier this week.

They were fined A$5,000 ($3,597) each.

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett was also fined A$20,000 ($14,314.00) this week for going to a restaurant with his partner while St. George-Illawarra prop Paul Vaughan was fined A$10,000 ($7,190) for visiting a cafe.

The breaches come on top of the news Brisbane would be without coach Anthony Seibold for the next two weeks after he was allowed to leave the team when they were in Sydney over the weekend to deal “with a serious family matter.”

“He expects to be able to return to Brisbane within 48 hours but in line with COVID regulations he will need to self-isolate for 14 days once he is back in Queensland,” Broncos Chief Executive Paul White said.

“Assistant coach Peter Gentle will coach the team in Anthony’s absence.”

Australia is experiencing a second wave of novel coronavirus infections, especially in the southeastern state of Victoria, prompting restrictions on inter-state travel. ($1 = 1.3972 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Michael Perry)

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