Bulldogs part ways with John Asiata following Covid-19 vaccine refusal

The Bulldogs have parted ways with John Asiata following his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The NRL has not mandated the vaccine but have allowed clubs to and it’s understood Canterbury have become the first side to lose a player over the issue.

Asiata, 28, had only just joined the Bulldogs on a one-year deal after playing in 2021 with the Broncos.

The 28-year-old told the Bulldogs last month he’d rather work on a construction site than be inoculated.

Club bosses warned Asiata last week he’d be sacked if his stance didn’t change.

“The Bulldogs and John Asiata have agreed to part ways by mutual consent,” the club said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“Asiata, signed with the club this season, but had yet to train with the squad.

“The Bulldogs wish John and his family all the best for the future.”

The NRL only managed to finish the 2021 season amid outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria by moving the entire competition to Queensland in July.

NRL players will not be allowed to enter stadiums in Queensland and Victoria next year, or enter New Zealand, if they are unvaccinated.

Bulldogs chief executive officer Aaron Warburton said last week that no unvaccinated players will play for the club.

Asiata has played 139 NRL games, including 129 at the Cowboys where he made his first-grade debut.

He came off the interchange bench when the Cowboys won the grand final in 2015.

The number of unvaccinated NRL players fell to single digits after Canberra star Josh Papalii got jabbed.

However, the Storm’s standoff with Nelson Asofa-Solomona is coming to a head with the start forward due back at training on Wednesday.

The AFL is the only sporting organisation in Australia to introduce a mandate.

The NRL has implemented protocols and told clubs to designate separate eating and bathroom areas for players who are yet to receive two jabs.

The protocols also restrict players who are unvaccinated or have only had one jab from using indoor gyms, public transport and going to the pub.

Additionally, they cannot have visitors at their home or attend other households.

Under NSW health orders, if a team trains within a stadium precinct then an unvaccinated player cannot enter that facility.

That means unvaccinated players in NSW cannot train with teammates until those rules are eased - unless they’re using the club’s private grounds.

Those rules are slated to ease on either December 15 or when 95 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated. NSW is currently at 92.8 per cent.


Story first published on Fox Sports Australia

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Eamonn Tiernan from Fox Sports Australia