Wayne Bennett and Paul Vaughan have been forced out of their respective NRL team’s bubble for 14 days after a frustrated Peter V’landys claimed the pair should both know better than to dine out.
Bennett on Thursday said he visited a Sydney restaurant on Wednesday with his partner.
NSW State of Origin forward Vaughan had breakfast at a Wollongong cafe on Thursday after also bursting the bubble with a swim.
Both have been tested for COVID-19 and will need to pass another test to re-join their teams, while both could still face further sanctions from the NRL integrity unit.
Bennett is therefore barred from coaching South Sydney in person for two weeks, while Vaughan is unable to play for St George Illawarra against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
Bennett claimed on Thursday he did not know he was breaking the NRL’s biosecurity rules with the lunch date, despite being on the Project Apollo committee.
But ARL commission chairman V’landys said Bennett and Vaughan had put the sport at risk.
“I just hope the game treats this as a wake-up call,” V’landys told AAP.
“They’re not just jeopardising the game in the short term.
“They are jeopardising their own futures for the next two seasons and they’re jeopardising future generations of the game of rugby league.
“Because if it shuts down and we can’t operate, it will have dire effects for years. Not months, but years.
“Because if they don’t (wake up to it), and we don’t finish the season, their consequences will be catastrophic.”
V’landys was adamant that swift action by the NRL would stop any concerns from the Queensland government.
Bennett coached Souths players at training on Thursday, with his team set to take on his former side Brisbane on Friday night.
At this stage there is no concern for his players given the contact was just hours after the restaurant visit.
The NRL has been granted an exemption by the Queensland government to have sides travel across the closed state border due to the league’s biosecurity rules.
“We have the protocols in place, they approved the protocols. And we are now administering the protocols,” V’landys said.
“That gives credibility to governments. Because they can see if someone breaches them, we immediately take action.
“I’m confident the government can see we are responsible, and we will take the responsible action when required, because no system is foolproof.”
Jason Demetriou will take charge of Souths in Bennett’s absence – just two years after a succession plan for the assistant to replace the seven-times premiership mentor at the Broncos was knocked back.
Bennett on Thursday admitted he’d been out on previous occasions and said his confusion arose given he could shop for groceries at packed shopping centres.
He said the restaurant was not busy on Wednesday and he’d made a point to sit away from other people.
However, under the NRL’s rules, no players or coaches within the bubble can have visitors or dine at pubs, cafes or restaurants.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I thought I did something wrong,” Bennett said.
“If (isolation) is what’s got to happen, that’s their call. The rules have changed that many times about what we can do and can’t do.
“I didn’t think I was breaking rules yesterday because I wasn’t with a group, it was just me and my partner.”