NRL world react to COVID breaches

The NRL community has voiced its disappointment after veteran coach Wayne Bennett broke the league’s coronavirus biosecurity rules and have been stood down for two weeks of “COVID-hold”.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs coach confirmed The Daily Telegraph’s report he dined at an Italian restaurant in Sydney’s inner-west on Wednesday with a woman believed to be his partner.

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Bennett claimed he didn’t know he was breaching the NRL’s strict protocols, which ban players and coaches from visiting public places.

Bennett will now miss the Rabbitohs clash with his old club the Brisbane Broncos and next week’s game against the North Queensland Cowboys with assistant coach Jason Demetriou taking control of the team.

It was a bad day for breaches with Dragons and NSW prop Paul Vaughan was also stood down for 14 days after eating breakfast at an Illawarra cafe.

Wayne Bennett will miss two matches after being placed on a 14-day COVID-hold.Source:News Corp Australia

Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga was also reportedly being investigated for a biosecurity breach, having been seen at a Japanese restaurant on the weekend. But he was soon cleared of any wrongdoing as he was waiting for a takeaway order.

UPDATE: NRL Ponga cleared of any bubble breach. He was getting takeaway and his time in restaurant with teammates was just waiting for food. https://t.co/bwH3KwyC2u

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys blasted Bennett and Vaughan on Thursday afternoon: “They should know better … They are jeopardising their own futures for the next two seasons and they’re jeopardising future generations of the game of rugby league.”

But it was just the start as the rest of the NRL world took aim at the pair.

Nine News sports journalist Jelisa Apps delivered a scathing assessment of Bennett’s actions.

“Bennett saying the rules/protocols are confusing. Spare me,” Apps tweeted. “If I was on $800,000+ a year I reckon I could stay on top of what I can and can’t do. There’s a lot of people on a lot less who need this game to keep going. People make mistakes FOR SURE. But the excuses I can’t.”

The Daily Telegraph reporter Buzz Rothfield felt similarly.

“I’m dirty that he put the entire game at risk then claimed he didn’t know the rules,” Rothfield tweeted. “Rich from someone who was on Project Apollo.”

Channel 9 reporter Danny Weidler theorised Bennett would most likely spend seven days in isolation, even if he returns a negative result.

Wayne Bennett talking to media.Source:Getty Images

ABC Grandstand journalist Jon Healy blasted Bennett for attempting to shift attention towards reporting around the incident.

“Wayne Bennett says he got told, ‘Someone had made me a headline’. Ffs. How is this one the media’s fault?” Healy tweeted. “If he broke the rules, he broke the rules. It’s not the fault of the papers for reporting it.”

The Age sports journalist Daniel Cherney cheekily tweeted: “In the most 2020 thing ever I just listened to seven minutes of Wayne Bennett being asked about his lunching habits.”

The Australian’s sports editor Wally Mason also tweeted: “Last time I looked he was one of the blokes coming up with the rules. If he doesn‘t understand them, who does?”

Bennett follows in the footsteps of Bulldogs player Aiden Tolman, Panthers rookie Charlie Staines and Knights star Bradman Best who both missed games for COVID-19 breaches.

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