Latrell Mitchell and his teammates are furious that the NRL’s new COVID-19 restrictions will destroy their chances of winning The Frownlow Medal in 2022.
Mitchell and fellow NRL players lashed out on social media after the NRL announced plans to ban players from venues such as nightclubs, pubs and cinemas in order to avoid the spread of COVID among teams and to keep the competition afloat.
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 star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.
“How are we supposed to win the Frownlow?” Latrell asked angrily.
“Pubs and nightclubs are where we get our nominations and now we can’t visit them. A pub is where I got my first nomination in 2019. Me and the boys went for a few quiet ones at Old Bar Tavern and these random guys picked a fight with us. This rule is a joke!”
NSW Blues teammates and fellow Frownlow nominees Josh Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton joined Mitchell in condemning the new restrictions.
“This is rubbish,” declared Addo-Carr, who earned his first nomination alongside Mitchell in 2020 for a COVID breach in which they rode trail bikes on the beach and shot guns.
“Yeah, we could still ride our bikes and shoot our guns, cos that’s not indoors, but that didn’t win us the medal in 2020 and we can’t just do the same thing again. We need to do something original if we wanna win. How many nominations have come from inside a pub or club? Mate, it’s a deadset stitch up.”
Wighton was also incensed, as he came very close to winning the medal in 2018 after a pub fight earned him a 10-week suspension from the game.
“Footy players go to bars, get drunk or high, or both, then get into fights, urinate in public, harass women and post stupid photos of themselves on social media, and this is how they get nominated. If they take that away from us, we can’t show the Frownlow judges that we’re doing enough to win the medal.”
NRL players were also adamant that the medal must stay within their code after AFL player Elijah Taylor won in 2020. Hayne claimed it back for the NRL in 2021, but the restrictions placed on NRL players may create an unfair advantage for players from the AFL, Super Rugby and A-League.
Meanwhile, NRL players will also have restrictions placed on home gatherings, so Paul Vaughan has put away the BBQ tongs.
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