Breaching COVID-19 protocols was a competition in itself for professional footballers in 2020, and Corey Waddell and Sione Katoa have not moved on. The Canterbury players and some Bulldogs teammates recently breached NRL protocols with a few drinks at a bar in Bondi and have been nominated 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 AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.
Waddell and Katoa joined Dylan Napa, Aaron Schoupp and Brandon Wakeham at some watering holes in Bondi and Coogee despite NRL players being instructed to avoid places like this during the latest COVID scare in Sydney, which is centred upon the Eastern Suburbs.
The five players were all issued with fines. Waddell must pay $1500 and Katoa $1250. The Bulldogs club was hit with a massive fine, because the NRL found that it did not do enough to inform the players of the new rules regarding player movement outside of training and games. This diminishes the responsibility of the players and makes it very difficult for them to win The Frownlow Medal in 2021.
The football public and the Australian people had though that COVID breaches were a thing of the past, and that no foootballer would ever again earn a Frownlow nomination for breaking protocol. Then again, without a national vaccine rollout, COVID breaches are still a problem in 2021. Maybe the Bulldogs players can point that out to Scott Morrison the next time they play the Sharks.