NRL 2020: Eels rookie Stefano Utoikamanu caught breaching biosecurity protocols after debut

Parramatta Eels debutant Stefano Utoikamanu could find himself in hot water for appearing to break the NRL's strict COVID-19 biosecurity protocols, after his side's win over the Newcastle Knights. 

After the full-time whistle, Utoikamanu joined his family to celebrate and shared a few embraces, before being escorted away by Eels staff. 

Utoikamanu only came on in the dying moments to make his NRL debut, making one run, as the Eels returned to the top of the NRL standings with a 10-4 win. 

A club spokesperson says the 20-year-old was surrounded by relatives he lives with, but the NRL has strict rules over players interacting with people in the stands. 

Eels coach Brad Arthur didn't see the incident, but says he would support his player if the NRL decides to fine or suspend Utoikamanu.

"I didn't see it, but he's a kid, making his debut," says Arthur. "I changed the winger to get him on there and get him a carry.

"I think the club has talked to him about it. It's just a reaction - he was excited.

Stefano Utoikamanu celebrates with Blake Ferguson.
Stefano Utoikamanu celebrates with Blake Ferguson. Photo credit: Getty

"We'll have to see what happens. I'm not sure what happens - I don't make the rules, but I'm not going to hold it against him."

In a statement to Fox Sports, NRL head of football Graham Annesley says: "As always we will be guided by the advice of our medical experts. 

"We will then be in a position to advise the club, and the player of any further action or protocol implications."

This wouldn't be the first COVID-19 breach the NRL has had to deal with this season, with Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Nathan Cleary all fined for breaking social distancing rules while the competition was suspended in March and April.

On top of that, Canterbury Bulldogs were fined $25,000, after club legend Terry Lamb breached biosecurity protocols at a training session, while Kiwis captain Benji Marshall was forced into quarantine, after kissing a reporter on the cheek at a Wests Tigers media session.

Fox Sports reporter Hannah Hollis was also sent for a COVID-19 test, after conducting a sideline interview with North Queensland Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes during a 37-26 defeat against the NZ Warriors. 

Earlier this month, Knights centre Bradman Best had to be isolated from Newcastle's training bubble for seven days, after failing to inform the club he was visiting his family when the NRL loosened its biosecurity rules.

Meanwhile, St George Illawarra Dragons snapped a two-game losing streak, beating Manly Sea Eagles 34-4 at Kogarah's Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. 

Leading 10-4 at the break, the Dragons ran in four tries in the final 20 minutes to secure their third win of the season.