NSW players have shared their disappointment after six teammates were denied the chance to celebrate with them in the middle of McDonald Jones Stadium on Wednesday.
The Blues had pushed hard for Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Daniel Saifiti, Jake Trbojevic and extended squad members Campbell Graham and Keaon Koloamatangi to make the hit-and-run trip to Newcastle for the potentially historic Origin moment.
Brad Fittler’s side is chasing its first clean sweep in 21 years and just its fourth 3-0 triumph in history. The Blues made a point of including every player who had contributed to this year’s success in their post-match on-field party.
The Blues were prepared to have all six players driven to and from the ground in individual cars. Saifiti lives in Newcastle and was going to be personally chauffeured to his home ground.
But the NRL informed the Blues late Thursday there was no way they could allow the request because of the rising COVID numbers in Greater Sydney and the fact the six players would not be deemed essential workers.
“Under NSW Public Health Orders, a Greater Sydney resident attending a game in Newcastle, as a spectator, is not a reasonable excuse to leave home,” an NRL spokesperson told the Herald.
The Blues pointed out the players were already abiding by level-four biosecurity measures and had not left their homes except for training. A couple of Blues could not understand the difference in allowing players to switch from “club bubbles to the Blues bubble” considering Matt Lodge last week left the Broncos for the New Zealand Warriors.
Tom Trbojevic knew how much it would have meant to his older brother Jake to be part of the trophy presentation after he featured in game one in Townsville. He missed game two because of a glute strain.