Rugby League: Benji Marshall cleared for return, after reporter's negative COVID-19 test

Kiwis captain Benji Marshall has been cleared to return to training, after the reporter he kissed returned a negative test COVID-19 test.

On Wednesday, the playmaker was sent home from training after greeting Seven News reporter Michelle Bishop with a friendly peck on the cheek. 

An NRL official witnessed the kiss and immediately reported it as a social-distancing breach.

On Thursday, Bishop announced the results came back negative. 

"I'm in the clear," she tweeted. "Negative to coronavirus.

"Massive thanks to the @WestsTigers and the @NRL, but mostly to @Benji_Marshall6, who continues to be a great role model to my three sons on and off the field."  

Marshall did not require a test, but had to remain at home until Bishop had her results back. 

Appearing on Aussie breakfast show Sunrise, Bishop said Marshall was thanking her for a text message she had sent him, when he was controversially dropped for Saturday’s clash with Canberra.

"I was on my phone, I looked up, he was there and it was kind of too late," she said.

"As you can see in the video, I did realise it was the wrong thing. We had the NRL media person and the NRL biosecurity expert standing there, so it was a very awkward situation.

"I do want to stress that I was in the right place, I was in the clean zone.

"I have to praise the NRL for what they've done," Bishop added. "They've gone to extreme measures and have been very strict.

"I feel really sorry for Benji. I received another text message from him last night apologising for all the fuss."

Although Marshall had to spend the day at home, it was always a scheduled day off for Tigers NRL squad.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys said the Tigers could expect to receive a suspended fine.

Last week, Canterbury Bulldogs were slapped with a AU$25,000 suspended fine, after club legend Terry Lamb - who is not a member of their 50-person NRL bubble - shook hands with several players at Belmore.

"There has to be, because we need to have deterrents in place for the clubs to obey the biosecurity measures," V'landys said on 2GB radio.

Benji Marshall kissing Michelle Bishop.
Benji Marshall kissing Michelle Bishop. Photo credit: Fox Sports

"The Government's been kind enough to allow us to conduct our competition under strict biosecurity measures and we have to honour our part of the deal."

"They [Wests Tigers] will probably be treated the same as the Bulldogs." 

The incident caps off a rough week for the Tigers and Marshall in particular, after he was dropped from the side to face Canberra Raiders this weekend. 

Only days before, replacement Josh Reynolds was caught in a failed road-side drugs test. 

Hours after his dumping, Marshall spoke about this demotion on his regular slot on Fox Sports' NRL 360.

The 35-year-old, who is equal second in Dally M voting after the opening four rounds, was one of five players axed by Tigers coach Michael Maguire from the team beaten 28-23 by Gold Coast Titans.

The playmaker admitted he was "shocked and disappointed to get dropped".