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Covid scandal threatens NRL before finals as positive RAT cartridge found at Manly’s 4 Pines Park

A fresh Covid scandal threatens the NRL just a month before the final as positive RAT cartridge found in Manly’s 4 Pines Park after Friday night’s loss to Parramatta

  • Positive RAT cartridge found in the media room at 4 Pines Park on Friday night
  • Followed by Parramatta’s impressive 36-20 round 21 win over Manly Sea Eagles
  • Male skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was not present at the post-match press conference
  • Parramatta coach Brad Arthur later spoke to reporters outside a women’s restroom

The NRL has been rocked by a new Covid-19 scandal just a month before the final.

In bizarre scenes, a positive RAT cartridge was seen in the media room after the game, just before Manly and Parramatta’s coaches were due to speak at 4 Pines Park Friday night.

An NRL official was alerted and discussed the situation with both the Sea Eagles and Eels – while a troop of stunned journalists remained in the press conference room about four meters from the test.

It remains unclear where the positive test came from, as players and staff from both clubs – as well as reporters – tested negative as part of regular pre-game Covid testing.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler eventually came out for his scheduled press conference – but skipper Daly Cherry-Evans chose to stay in the house sheds to avoid potentially being exposed to the test.

In bizarre scenes, a positive RAT test was seen in the media room after the game just before Manly and Parramatta's NRL coaches were due to speak at 4 Pines Park Friday night

In bizarre scenes, a positive RAT test was seen in the media room after the game just before Manly and Parramatta’s NRL coaches were due to speak at 4 Pines Park Friday night

It remains unclear where the positive test came from as players and staff from both clubs - as well as reporters - tested negative as part of regular pre-game Covid testing.

It remains unclear where the positive test came from as players and staff from both clubs – as well as reporters – tested negative as part of regular pre-game Covid testing.

There was a long delay, before Eels boss Brad Arthur spoke up his mind about his side’s 36-20 win – outside a ladies’ room near the main entrance to the ground.

To cap off the unique situation, Parramatta players refused to give interviews after the game.

Captains like captain Clint Gutherson and Dylan Brown wanted to avoid any risk of exposure to the virus.

The positive RAT test was later removed by an NRL official.

On the field, Manly’s chances of finishing in the top eight dipped thanks to a Gutherson masterclass.

The Cromer Kingfishers local junior on Sydney’s northern beaches ran 179 metres, had three try assists, two line breaks, three tackle busts and scored a brilliant individual try with the game at stake.

With halfback Mitchell Moses injured, the Eels needed their captain to deliver – and he didn’t disappoint.

Parramatta’s pursuit of the top four now looks promising as they aim for consistency from week to week.

The victories of the past two rounds over Manly and Penrith have provided much optimism for Eels fans, who have not celebrated a premiership since 1986.

Meanwhile, Hasler admitted that his team must win their last four games against the Titans, Sharks, Raiders and Bulldogs if they want to come to the fore in September.

They are expected to be without Kieran Foran for at least a week, after the star turner pinched his hamstring late in the game.

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