Broncos in hot water for breaking coronavirus guidelines
The NRL was left red-faced after Broncos stars Darius Boyd and Jack Bird were exposed flaunting social distancing rules as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ticked off on the season's return.
Boyd and Bird were filmed having lunch together in New Farm Park only hours before Palaszczuk declared Queensland's borders would open to the NRL on the proviso the game did not pose a threat to the state's quest to beat COVID-19.
The NRL was plunged into crisis this week when Origin players Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Nathan Cleary were busted breaking isolation protocols.
Palaszczuk backed the NRL's May 28 season kick-off, but warned ARLC chairman Peter V'landys that Queensland would withdraw its support if the NRL threatened the state's encouraging results.
"I said I was as keen as anyone else to see the NRL return and I meant it," she said.
"The only condition was that it did not put our excellent work containing the spread of COVID-19 at risk and the Chief Health Officer advises that the NRL plan is workable."
V'landys guaranteed the players would follow strict biosecurity rules and adhere to government guidelines.
"We won't let the Queensland Premier down," V'landys said.
"The players will be given our full biosecurity plan in the coming days and with the education they will be given, I have faith in them to follow the rules.
"I'm sure the players realise they cannot stuff up again and the repercussions if they do."
Just hours later, the NRL was forced to deal with the Broncos issue, a spokesman telling The Courier-Mail the game was seeking further information on the matter.
With restrictions easing from Saturday in Queensland, it is unlikely Boyd and Bird will be sanctioned for their park meet-up, but the timing couldn't have been worse with the NRL needing to stay squeaky clean in the coming months.
The Broncos claimed Boyd had been supporting Bird, who is still on crutches as he recovers from a season-ending knee reconstruction.
"Darius Boyd has been meeting with Jack Bird to provide mentoring and support after Jack suffered another season-ending knee injury," the Broncos said.
"Jack has undergone reconstructive surgery on the knee, the second time on the same knee in the past 12 months, and has been encouraged by the club to meet regularly with Darius - both as a friend, and also through Darius' role as a mental health ambassador with the Broncos.
"That mental health role sees Darius working in our community programs in schools, with our young development players, and with the current Broncos playing group. This mental health work is over-and-above Darius' playing contract and is endorsed by the NRL.
"Today's meeting between Darius and Jack was a senior player providing support, advice and a kind ear to a young man who has seen his third-straight season ruined by injury.
"Darius, Jack and the Broncos would like to reinforce their absolute and ongoing support for the Queensland Government's social isolation measures in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic."
Palaszczuk's approval was a massive win for Queensland's three NRL teams - the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans - who will not be forced to relocate to NSW for the resumption of the NRL competition.
The support of the Queensland government was seen as a critical hurdle the NRL needed to clear to meet their May 28 kick-off objective without the major disruption of displacing the Broncos, Titans and Cowboys.
The players will be educated on the NRL's new protocols when they report at their clubs on Monday.
Originally published as Broncos busted breaking coronavirus guidelines