Rugby League: NRL refuses to implement COVID-19 vaccine mandate for 2022 season

The NRL will not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its players heading into the 2022 season, chief executive Andrew Abdo has confirmed.

The AFL and AFLW have both decreed that players and staff will not be able to take part in their 2022 season unless they're fully vaccinated, but the NRL will not take the same approach.

Instead, Abdo says the players' choice will be respected, adding that some clubs have close to 90 percent of players and staff vaccinated.

"Clearly we need to make sure we have continuity to the competition and we are creating a safe working environment," Abdo told Channel 7.

"We are busy working on the protocols for the players who are vaccinated and the players that are not vaccinated. Hopefully we are talking about a very small group of players.

"They will have, I'd imagine, some pretty rigorous requirements around what they will be able to do in order to train and play."

But Abdo did concede that compulsory vaccination could be out of the NRL's control, with Australian states such as Victoria having imposed their own mandates.

"Of course this might be taken out of our hands by health orders or by airlines, so there will be repercussions for those that don't choose to be vaccinated but it's not our approach as a governing body to mandate it.

"Between now and the end of the off-season we will have a very clear set of guidelines for how the clubs and players can get back to training safely for those who are vaccinated and those who aren't yet vaccinated."

Vaccination mandates have been a tricky subject in the NRL, with a number of high-profile players, including NZ Kiwis forward Joseph Tapine, refusing to receive a flu shot in 2020.