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Canterbury Bulldogs COVID-19 outbreak, injuries, squad news, Brisbane Broncos Suncorp Stadium


UPDATE: Bulldogs general manager of football Phil Gould says he’s reached out to the NRL to find out whether the Titans or Warriors could loan a player to the club after Canterbury was struck down by a COVID-19 outbreak on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs have been forced to apply for exemptions to fill the player quota, with Gould confirming the club won’t let Friday’s primetime Channel Nine fixture against the Broncos be postponed.

Clubs are required to bring 24 players on game day, but with the Bulldogs having just 19 available, Gould confirmed he had spoken to the NRL on Wednesday morning to find out what action the club can take amid concerns more players could test positive for COVID-19 on game day.

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“The issue is, and I raised this with the league this morning – what if we get there [to Brisbane] after we travel on Thursday… what if we get five or six more [positive cases], what do we do?” Gould revealed on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.

“I said we might be the first, this might be the real test.

“What I said was, is there any chance, either from the Titans or Warriors who are in the area – we can’t ask the Broncos because we’re playing the Broncos – certainly from the Titans or Warriors whether or not they can apply a loan player.

“Even just to stay at a different hotel to be on standby, just in case we need it.

“That’s an extreme case, but by the same token, the game is on Channel Nine. It’s the big game at eight o’clock.

“Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but you’ve got to prepare for the worst. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Gould confirmed the club has no interest in postponing the Friday night fixture

“No, it’s not an option,” he said. “We will be there to play.

“There will be some kids there very excited to get an opportunity.”

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As bad as the club’s COVID-19 outbreak has been, a large pre-existing injury list has compounded it.

Gould explained how the club’s reserve and junior league sides are set to shift up a level with players moving up to ensure all the weekends’ games go ahead.

“Prior to this weekend, we had Jack Hetherington, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Matt Doorey, Corey Allen, Braidon Burns, Chris Patolo, Paul Alamoti and Brandon Wakeham all out injured,” Gould said.

“Tui Katoa, who had a terrible time last year with illness, played his first game back last week with the Mounties. It would be unfair to call upon him to play NRL at this stage.

“This week, Ava Seumanufagai, Jake Averillo, Brent Naden and Reece Hoffman tested positive for COVID-19.

“We also had some lower grade players test positive… we’re trying to move our reserve grade game. From a club perspective, we’re battling to fill a reserve grade side this week.

“We’re trying to get that postponed to Monday night. We have our SG Ball team in the preliminary final on Saturday, so we couldn’t promote any of those kids.

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“The Jersey Flegg, we’re promoting kids out of the junior league to fill that squad because a number of those will have to play NSW Cup.

“Depending on what does or doesn’t come back from Queensland after we play on Friday night.

“At the moment we’ve had to announce another top 24 to travel to Queensland.

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

“I rang the league today to say we will be seeking exemptions for several of these, and there’s no problem. Once you have this sort of problem, they have plans put in place… they know we’ve got to get bodies up there.”

Gould said the club is yet to confirm where the COVID-19 outbreak started.

“Where it’s come from, we don’t know,” he said. “We’ve had a few staff in recent times, including myself, I got COVID.

“A couple of players have had partners who have tested positive to COVID, so I guess it was only a matter of time before they did as well.

“I’m still testing negative every day, but I still have breathing difficulties. I’ve still got a cough and test myself twice a day… I don’t feel well with it.

“It’s in our club at the moment and we’ve got to protect the other teams we’re playing against.”

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