Storm star reluctant to vaccinate: report

Melbourne NRL star Nelson Asofa-Solomona (l) is reportedly reluctant to have the COVID-19 vaccine.
Melbourne NRL star Nelson Asofa-Solomona (l) is reportedly reluctant to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona's NRL future with Melbourne is uncertain with the giant prop reportedly reluctant to be vaccinated.

The NRL on Thursday revealed to clubs the competition's Apollo Protocols for the 2022 pre-season and has opted to stick with its decision not to follow the AFL in mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.

It has given clubs the power to make vaccination compulsory but that decision has been taken out of the Storm's hands due to Victorian government health orders.

Athletes are included among authorised workers who must be double vaccinated to attend their workplace in Victoria, meaning players can't train or play at AAMI Park unless double jabbed.

Storm boss Justin Rodski confirmed one player was yet to be vaccinated while not naming him.

The Nine Network reported Asofa-Solomona has told the club he doesn't want the vaccination.

"We're hopeful that everyone will be vaccinated in time to return to pre-season," Rodski told AAP.

"There's one (player) who's still remaining but they've got time still before they return so that's certainly our hope."

The Storm are still working through what happens if a player refuses vaccination and Asofa-Solomona is not due back for training until early December..

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this week locked out unvaccinated tennis players from the Australian Open and Rodski said the same would apply to NRL games played in Melbourne.

"We're in the exact same position so any player, staff member, fan, volunteer who enters in AAMI Park must be double vaccinated," Rodski said.

"It's part of the Victorian government health order for authorised workers, which includes athletes.

"The AFL has mandated a policy around vaccination so they won't have that issue for players from other teams travelling interstate but in the NRL a player unvaccinated from another team won't be able to play the Storm in Melbourne.

Unvaccinated players returning to training next month face a raft of strict conditions under the new Apollo Protocols.

With some clubs resuming training from November 1, the NRL said clubs would operate under two Apollo registers - A for fully vaccinated players and officials and B for those who have yet to have either a single or double jab.

The latter group must remain in a bubble - wear a mask at all times, undergo daily rapid antigen testing as well as a weekly PCR test, stay home other than for essential reasons and avoid social settings such as cafes and bars.

Clubs must also provide separate eating and bathroom areas for unvaccinated players, while in some instances they are unable to train with their squad.

As well as Melbourne, the Bulldogs, Sharks and Dragons use stadium facilities for training, with unvaccinated persons unable to visit under NSW government health orders.

The NRL says the current vaccination rate for players is between 90-95 per cent and it is hopeful it will be 100 per cent by round one.

While the NRL has given clubs the power to mandate vaccination, it warned them against terminating contracts in the short term.

It says it expects government health orders, including their impact on the unvaccinated, to undergo significant change from December 1.

Australian Associated Press