Rugby league: Warriors coach Nathan Brown blasts NRL’s biggest inconsistency

Warriors coach Nathan Brown was keen to distance himself from the behaviour of players at other clubs, but he’s taken aim at the NRL for inconsistent bans on players who have breached Covid rules either willingly or through no fault of their own.

Speaking after his side’s 20-12 loss to the Sharks, Brown pointed out how unfair it was for Warriors players Euan Aitken and Josh Curran to spend 14 days in isolation after they were on a flight with a potential Covid case, while Dragons players will only miss one game for deliberately breaking the rules at a barbecue at Paul Vaughan’s place.

New Zealand Warriors’ losing streak continues with defeat to Cronulla Sharks

The inequality was further highlighted on Sunday by the fact Sharks centre Will Chambers was forced into 14-day quarantine even though he spent seven hours in his car to ensure he didn’t jeopardise the rest of the competition after he returned from Melbourne.

“What other players do at other clubs isn’t my concern,” Brown said.

“My biggest issue is how they decide how long blokes get stood down for. We’ve got two blokes from our starting side who haven’t played for two weeks because they caught an aeroplane where the hostess was crook.

“Then all the blokes from Saints get one week.

“So you do the wrong thing and you get a week, but you do the right thing like Will Chambers did and you get two weeks. You tell me how that one’s fair. It doesn’t add up to me.”

The Warriors are set to be one of 12 teams relocated to Queensland this week as the NRL looks to keep the competition running in three separate hubs north of the border.

It’s nothing new for a team that has spent more than a year in Terrigal and is ready to do whatever it takes to play their part in the latest sacrifice.

“You’ve got to keep the comp going so that’s the best way to do it. We’ve all got to support it and get involved and get up to Queensland,” Brown said.

“The players don’t look for excuses so you don’t have to worry about it. They’ve been really good. They don’t complain. If they complain then I haven’t heard about it in my time. They’ve been terrific.”

Sharks coach Josh Hannay says he would understand if some of his players chose to stay with their families rather than head to Queensland as the NRL braces for hub life in the wake of the Covid crisis in New South Wales.

With a further 77 cases announced in NSW on Sunday, the NRL has been left with little choice but to move teams north of the border to keep the competition alive.

It remains unclear how long the Queensland hubs will last, but it appears teams will be separated across three cities for at least the next four weeks, with caps of 41 to be placed on how many people can enter the bubble.

It’s a tricky scenario for players with young families who will have to leave their partners and children behind for an extended period of time, and Hannay says it’s a discussion clubs will have to have in the coming days.

“I wouldn’t assume that situation arising, but I also don’t know,” he said after Cronulla’s 20-12 win over the Warriors.

“If that was the case then you could understand.

“There’s so much uncertainty around at the moment, and obviously family comes first. There are going to be some delicate conversations going on over the next two or three days. We’ll support every player with whatever decision they make.

“We’ll get to work tomorrow and we’ll have a thorough discussion around what the future looks like. For the players, they need to have some big discussions with their families. They’ve got to go home tonight and digest all this.”

Regardless of what happens, Hannay supports the NRL’s decision to do whatever necessary to keep the competition running.

“I think we’re all really united in that mindset. This is our livelihood,” he said.

“As players, coaches, staff and administrators, we’ve got a responsibility to do whatever it takes. The game is doing everything in its power, and we have to back that up and follow their lead.”

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