Why NRL star won't bend to vaccination pressure

4 months ago 95
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Canberra forward and Maori co-captain Joseph Tapine told The Sydney Morning Herald he will take to the field for Saturday's All Stars game having refrained from being vaccinated because of "reactions to past vaccinations".

He will be the only player to participate yet to receive the jab.

Tapine said he had received criticism for his view on vaccination, before explaining his stance.

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Joseph Tapine of the Raiders makes a break to score a try. (Getty)

"It's a personal preference, I've had reactions to past vaccinations, and I'm a bit cautious at the moment," he said.

"That's my stance. I'm not anti-anything. If you know me, with anything in my life I'll look into everything first and make sure I'm 100 per cent about it before I make a decision. I didn't feel like it [previous vaccinations] helped me. I'm on the fence at the moment.

"You get direct messages [on social media], people get up you, but you have to try and ignore it. People need to know other people have personal lives and there is stuff they don't know about. You take it all in your stride.

"I've had COVID already. I think that has natural immunity. I'm not scared of getting it, but I know it affects people that might have bad health, so I have to be careful of that. Sometimes people get scared of people who are unvaccinated, so I have to be aware of that as well."

The NRL has not mandated a vaccination policy like rival code the AFL, but unless Tapine receives a government exemption, he will be unable able to play in Queensland or Victoria when the season kicks off next month.

An exemption would allow Tapine to delay having the jab for up to four months once he contracts COVID-19, which he said he had already experienced.

Raiders forward Joseph Tapine is tackled. (Getty)

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, North Queensland's Jason Taumalolo and Melbourne's Nelson Asofa-Solomona are understood to have secured such federal government exemptions.

But while Tapine was happy to explain why he was unvaccinated, Taumalolo was tight-lipped about his status when pressed by journalists at a Cowboys press conference yesterday.

"I'll see what goes on and look at all the regulations," Tapine said.

"At the end of the day, my wife [Kirsten] and I will sit down and make a decision about what I want to do."

Tapine led the Maori team last year and will do so again alongside Kodi Nikorima on Saturday night against the Indigenous All-Stars at CommBank Stadium.

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