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NRL confident of NSW government approval to burst bubble within days

Players were also angered after being told they would not be given exemptions to visit their mums for Mother’s Day on May 9.

“We’ve tried to be really reasonable around the submission,” Newton said. “We are certainly optimistic about the result of the feedback so far from the government.”

Many players expressed their frustration publicly around the code’s strict COVID-19 policy this week, with Cronulla star Andrew Fifita speaking candidly about his issues.

Fifita was reprimanded for taking his children for a short walk in recent weeks. His family was also criticised for attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney.

“I had three phone calls to the club because I walked my kids around the block on their bikes, it’s tough,” he said. “Ever since that moment, I haven’t been out. I’ve been stuck in the house for a long time now.”

On Wednesday, Fifita revealed the pressure he had faced from family and friends to attend the protest himself.

“[They were] saying, ‘Are you going to come down, are you going to come down?’ But I’m in a bubble. I have to respect the rules and this is my work,” he said. “I would have loved to go down to the march but I couldn’t be there so I sent my family on my behalf … it’s just one of those things that we all stand up for and I’m a very proud Indigenous man.”

Rabbitohs star Tom Burgess said on Tuesday the players had been pushing hard for restrictions to be eased after the AFL allowed their players some more freedoms this week.

“I’ve been speaking to the RLPA to try and get that sorted. It’s a bit of process with the government,” Burgess said. “You feel like you’re missing out when everyone is able to do things.”

Teammate Damien Cook also spoke of how long it had been since sharing a coffee with his mum.


“I think the first thing I will be doing is sitting at a cafe and play some golf. It will be nice to get out and it’s great work by everyone involved to get the game back up and running,” he said.

Rabbitohs centre James Roberts checked himself into a rehabilitation facility in May as his mental health wavered during the COVID-19 crisis. It has proved a huge concern for the players’ mental wellbeing during the lockdown.

“We canvassed with the NRL some of the players’ immediate concerns for the application [to government],” Newton said. “We are just trying to allow the players, their families and the staff members to go back to a level of normality.”

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