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Roberts facing 14-day isolation period after stint in rehab

Under the NRL’s Apollo Club Protocols issued to every club, players and officials must stay within their nominated residence unless attending club premises or match-day venues.

The protocols state that a player “may only leave their residence for essential household, family or medical needs. This should be reserved for exceptional circumstances and only undertaken if these tasks cannot be performed by another member of the household”.

Roberts is due to check out of a northern beaches rehabilitation facility on Friday, with his partner, Anna Jovanovic, telling the Herald on Monday that the 27-year-old was desperate to return to the field as soon as possible.

“If he plays the first game, that would be huge for him,” Jovanovic told the Herald. “I hope he does. Because that’s what he is really looking forward to. Knowing James, he might say, ‘I need to play, this is what I live and I die for’.

“The reason he decided to go to rehab was because of the absence rugby league left in his life when we had to go into isolation. You could just see he was lost.

“He would just sit around, be in deep thought and you could see he didn’t want to do anything. He lost some of his drive. The whole not getting up for training, the social environment of being with the boys, the happiness that training gives and doing what always does – that was a big part that was missing. He just kept saying ‘I just want to play football’.”

South Sydney must send a written application for an exemption to NRL head of football Graham Annesley, who “will consider the application, including if necessary seeking the input of the Apollo Committee, NRL medical or such other expert/individual (he) may consider necessary”.

Roberts’ uncle and former NRL player Amos Roberts said his nephew could be going ”from one lockdown to another lockdown” if he had to isolate.

“But he’ll know he’s another step closer to playing,” Roberts said. “If they are the rules and regulations, you have to abide by them. If it’s 14 days he has to sacrifice, it won’t be that much for him because he’ll know there’s that light at the end of the tunnel. If he’s happy, a lot of things can happen for him.”

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