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Papalii to be cleared for Cowboys trip after flu vaccine drama

The Raiders have made an application for Tapine to be exempt and were awaiting approval from the Queensland government.

Coach Ricky Stuart had only 20 fit players available for selection against South Sydney and was forced to name long term absentee John Bateman in his 21-man squad even though he was no chance of playing.

Josh Papalii scores a try against the Roosters.

Josh Papalii scores a try against the Roosters.Credit:NRL Photos

Bateman could be in the frame for selection against the Cowboys, along with Curtis Scott (arm infection) and new signing Corey Harawira-Naera, who last week confirmed his exit from the Bulldogs after the NRL’s appeals committee overturned his deregistration.

The New Zealand international was going through the biosecurity requirements over the weekend to be included in the Raiders’ “bubble”.

Papalii’s imminent inclusion will be huge coup for the grand finalists, who have surged to the cusp of the top four with back-to-back wins against two-time defending premiers the Roosters and the Rabbitohs.

Speaking in late May about his objection to the flu vaccine, Papalii said: “I do have my reasons and my family reasons as well, the medical status isn’t the best with my kids as well. I just don’t think I have to [get the vaccine], I think it’s a personal thing for me and my family.”

Papalii also previously said he wasn’t fretting about potentially giving up a State of Origin jumper if not allowed to enter his home state for the end-of-year series.

Canberra’s backs-to-the-wall victories came straight after Josh Hodgson’s season-ending ACL tear and injuries to influential forwards Bateman, Soliola, Corey Horsburgh and Emre Guler.

Papalii is likely to now be available to play the Cowboys and Titans, who will also host the Raiders on the Gold Coast next month.


Soliola’s horrific facial fracture could rule him out for the rest of the regular season meaning he is unlikely to have to make a call on whether he will have a change of heart to enter Queensland.

Stuart has blooded a debutant in each of the last three weeks including Harley Smith-Shields, who came up with a crucial late play as the Raiders held on to beat the Rabbitohs 18-12 at Canberra Stadium.

Manly’s Addin Fonua-Blake complied with a Queensland government directive in order to return from suspension against the Cowboys in Townsville last Friday night.

The 24-year-old was one of a select group of players who had decided against taking the flu vaccine back in May, but he was instrumental in the Sea Eagles’ win against North Queensland which kept them in the top eight.

Canerbury’s Sione Katoa also agreed to a flu vaccine in order to be available for the Bulldogs’ loss to the Broncos in Brisbane earlier this month.

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