NRL players Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly have become the first players in the history of professional football to be punished for NOT sticking a needle into their arm.
The two Gold Coast Titans players were stood down by the NRL after refusing to have an influenza vaccination, and subsequently earned nominations for The Frownlow Medal.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.
Cartwright and Kelly refused to comply with the COVID-19 regulation as they have a personal objection to vaccinations, but authorities in Queensland stipulated that every single player must be vaccinated, or receive official approval to abstain from vaccination, in order for the NRL to resume on May 28. Cartwright and his wife have previously spoken out against vaccination of any form, and publicly declared their stance on social media.
Cartwright and Kelly have become the first players to be punished by their governing body, and to be nominated for Frownlow honours, for NOT injecting drugs into their body. The Frownlow Medal honours list is full of professional footballers who have been nominated, or rewarded for injecting all sorts of substances into their body.
The Titans players also join the growing list of players who have been suspended from a competition that is not actaully taking place – something of an achievement in itself.
This is Cartwright’s second nomination for Frownlow honours. The talented backrower was first nominated in 2017 after it was discovered he had enlisted former NRL player and fixer Lou Zivanovic to persuade his ex-girlfriend to abort his baby.
To make matters worse, judges of The Frownlow Medal have advised Kelly and Cartwright that they must be vaccinated if they want to attend the popular Frownlow awards night later this year.