Premiers pre-season thrown into disarray Ivan Cleary and Penrith Panthers players touch down on the Sunshine Coast as they set up in Queensland hubs after a large Covid outbreak in Sydney. Picture Lachie Millard


The Penrith Panthers are the latest sporting organisation to be destabilised by Covid ahead of a return to pre-season training this week.

The Panthers are the latest team to be hit by a Covid outbreak with a significant number of their squad unavailable to return to pre-season training this week.

“Penrith Panthers can confirm a significant number of the club’s NRL players and staff are currently self-isolating and will not be available for the recommencement of pre-season training this week,” the club said in a statement.

“The affected players and staff have either tested positive for COVID-19 or been identified as a close contact of a positive case.

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“These individuals will only return to training after receiving clearance in accordance with NRL and NSW Government protocols.

“The club respects the privacy of the affected players and staff, and will be making no further comment on the matter at this time.”

The news of the Panthers crisis comes fresh on the heels of four Broncos players testing positive to Covid-19.

“The Brisbane Broncos have had four players test positive for COVID, with all being asymptomatic,” a Broncos statement reads.

“They are all presently obeying Queensland Government protocols and will be absent from training when we return on Thursday.

“Once cleared they will return to the club under the NRL’s Graduated Return to Play guidelines.”

The development comes as the NRL introduced a universal ban on each of their 480 players within the competition from entering any kind of indoor venue amid rising Covid cases across the country.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the new preventive measures will include businesses such as pubs, clubs and cinemas and visitors attempting to enter the home of any NRL player will need to provide a negative Rapid Antigen Test.

The NRL are desperate to stop the spread of Covid-19 throughout their playing ranks, with partners and children of any player that currently live in a different location also required to provide a negative test before entering their home.

NRL players will no longer be allowed to order a counter lunch, visit nightclubs or go to the movies.

However players will still be able to visit cafes and restaurants provided they are seated outside and use table service.

The NRL and ARLC are still yet to confirm their road map for how they plan to steer the competition through the inevitable event of players contracting Covid during the season.

A formal response to Raiders coach Ricky Stuart’s demands to expand playing rosters in an effort to provide sufficient depth to combat the Covid crisis is yet to be released by the NRL.

Originally published as Panthers rocked by Covid outbreak as ‘significant’ number of players banned from training



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