Roberts cops one-game NRL ban for breach

Wests Tigers' James Roberts is at the centre of the latest biosecurity breach by an NRL player.
Wests Tigers' James Roberts is at the centre of the latest biosecurity breach by an NRL player.

Wests Tigers centre James Roberts has been banned for one game and fined $7500 by the NRL for his minor quarantine breach in a Gold Coast hotel.

In another busy day for the game, NRL bosses met with Queensland Health over the Roberts matter to ease concerns about the game's exemption in the state.

Roberts had become the latest player to fall foul of COVID-19 restrictions since the start of the Sydney outbreak, however, on this occasion his breach was minor.

After being forced to travel to Queensland with families, Roberts was caught out when he was photographed walking onto his balcony to hang out a towel.

Under Queensland health rules, quarantining players and family members are not allowed on balconies after they were caught passing food between rooms last week.

They were then ordered to tape their balcony doors shut over the weekend and send photo proof of it to Queensland Health, effectively cutting off fresh air.

The NRL confirmed the relatively minor penalty for Roberts on Wednesday afternoon, after the former NSW State of Origin centre had been snapped outside his hotel balcony door.

In doing so, the game confirmed it had taken into account the difficulties he had endured since entering quarantine.

The ban means Roberts will be available for selection again in round 22, after only being due to come out of quarantine next week.

It's believed NRL CEO Andrew Abdo also approached Queensland Health on relaxing some restrictions in hotel quarantine on Wednesday.

It comes after Queensland's top medical official Jeanette Young last week warned she was close to revoking the NRL's exemption to play on if breaches continued.

But the NRL is also confident it will be able to continue the rest of the competition in the state without further issue.

"We have a good relationship with Queensland Health and the Queensland Government," ARL Commission chair Peter V'landys said.

"They have been nothing but helpful for us. We have to respect their views."

Meanwhile, Sydney's extended lockdown is expected to force the cancellation of lower grade competitions in NSW, including reserve grade and under-21s.

And the NRL is still grappling with how to proceed with the NRLW, with a competition running through October and November the most likely option.

Clubs would require four weeks of pre-season once the lockdown ends, while there are also challenges with New Zealand players - of which there are a number in the competition - given the closure of the trans-Tasman bubble for eight weeks.

Australian Associated Press