The Canberra Raiders have confirmed that two players from the senior squad have tested positive for COVID-19.
A Raiders spokesperson would not identify the footballers by name but told Region Media that they belonged to the senior playing group of 30. Two support staff also received positive results last week; consequently, players and staff were all tested. A number of close contacts of the players are now in isolation.
It’s understood that the virus was probably acquired from a Newcastle contact. The initial infection among staff halted pre-season training until the New Year.
Coach Ricky Stuart has faced a lengthy tussle over vaccination with some players, but it’s believed that only two remain unvaccinated. Star forward Josh Papalii had resisted vaccination but said last month that he was willing to get the jab, enabling him to continue representing the club in public and carrying out charity work.
Players are due to return for pre-season training on 5 January. The Raiders have indicated that all players will be tested daily to ensure the safety, as far as possible, of the wider group and support staff.
The COVID-19 results come as the Raiders family mourns the loss of Peter Mulholland. His funeral will be held this week, making it unlikely that some players will attend. Mulholland was the Raiders’ recruitment and high-performance director and died following a long battle with illness.
He worked with the Raiders, among a number of other national and international clubs, to identify and promote talent. CEO Don Furner said Mulholland’s influence on the Raiders had been substantial, describing him as one of the game’s greatest characters.