The NRL is in the midst of its closest brush with COVID-19 as North Queensland coach Todd Payten was put in isolation, leaving the club’s clash with Newcastle in the balance.
- The Cowboys game against the Knights in Newcastle on Saturday will go ahead if Todd Payten’s COVID test returns negative
- Players Tom Gilbert and Griffin Neame, along with strength and conditioning coach Mark Henry, have also been tested after traveling to Magnetic Island on Saturday
- None of the instances are considered biosecurity breaches, given the Cowboys were not placed into a bubble until Monday
Payten has been placed in a two-week self-quarantine with Cowboys training cancelled after he became a close contact of a COVID-19 case when attending the Townsville markets on Sunday.
Payten is waiting a COVID-19 test result, but will be sidelined for 14 days regardless under Queensland health orders.
Assistant coach Dean Young will take over as coach in the interim with Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel saying Payten is feeling well and isn’t showing any symptoms.
Saturday’s scheduled game against Newcastle is fine to proceed if Payten’s test returns negative, but if it is positive the entire Cowboys squad would be sidelined as he attended training on Monday.
“Todd and the entire Warriors squad last year went through a number of these items on a daily basis,” Reibel said.
Payten’s case isn’t the only one troubling the Cowboys, after they trained together on Monday.
Players Tom Gilbert and Griffin Neame travelled to Magnetic Island on Saturday, where the known case also visited, and along with housemate Laitia Moceidreke and strength and conditioning coach Mark Henry, they have all been sent for immediate tests.
The club’s NRL squad and 17 football department staff are unable to return to training until negative test results are received.
“Whilst Todd will be away all our other coaching staff have stepped up,” Reibel said.
None of the instances are considered biosecurity breaches, given the Cowboys were not placed into a bubble until the rest of the competition was on Monday night.
At the time, there was no knowledge there had been any coronavirus cases in the Townsville area.
The Cowboys situation comes on the back of two Warriors players — Josh Curran and Euan Aitken — being placed in isolation after being on the same flight as a confirmed case late last week.
Canterbury have five players in isolation, including former Queensland State of Origin prop Dylan Napa, after they breached NRL guidelines last week by visiting a Bondi pub before subsequently becoming close contacts of a positive virus case.
Cronulla centre Josh Dugan has been isolated after breaching the bubble over the weekend to dine out at a Potts Point restaurant.
He is not considered a contact of any known case.