Of all the left-field dramas rugby league has managed to turn up over the years – some comical, some deadly serious – the game continues to plough fresh ground.
And so, on Wednesday, the Gold Coast Titans were fielding phone calls about how they planned to deal with a newly minted anti-vaxxer in their squad. It was more of a human resources concern than a football issue but one that posed legitimate health questions for fellow Titans players, employees and their families.
By then, the story had already been feasted on by news websites, morning television and talkback radio. Via a series of questions on Instagram, Shanelle Cartwright, the wife of Titans forward Bryce Cartwright, had told the world of their refusal to vaccinate any of their children.
The couple have a toddler Koa, 13 months, and Shanelle is due within a week to give birth to the couple’s second child. Neither have or will be vaccinated, with Shanelle saying she had convinced a reluctant Bryce to support the deeply controversial stance, which flies in the face of all respected medical evidence.