By NZ Herald
Former All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams has been caught up in a coronavirus scare, after confirmation that four players from his new rugby league club have experienced “possible symptoms” of the deadly virus.
In a statement, the Toronto Wolfpack confirmed the club have suspended training and stood down their entire UK-based staff after four players experienced symptoms of Covid-19.
The identity of the players has not been released.
Wolfpack General Manager Martin Vickers told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph he could not reveal whether Williams was among the four players displaying symptoms.
“Out of respect to those players and their families, we are going to keep that information private at this time,” he said.
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“We have advised four of our players who have experienced mild possible symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate in accordance with the guidelines set by the UK government,” Brian McDermott, head coach of the Canadian franchise playing in the European Super League for the first time this season, said in a statement.
“We take this very seriously and as a precaution, we have stood down our entire playing staff in the UK.”
Williams, who started his professional sporting career as a teenager with the Bulldogs in the NRL, signed with the Wolfpack on a two-year deal reportedly worth $10 million shortly after the All Black’s failed Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan late last year.
The deal is believed to be the richest contract in rugby league and union history, with the 34-year-old making his return to the 13-man code for the first time since quitting the Sydney Roosters in 2014.
The Wolfpack use Manchester Metropolitan University’s Platt Lane Sports Complex as their UK training base. According to McDermott, the health and welfare of players, staff, fans and partners is “always our primary concern”.
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“We train in an environment where we interact with students and members of the public and we vehemently do not want to act as a possible vector for COVID-19 which is why we have taken this immediate action,” he said.
“Our main goal is to prevent any further spread to our playing squad and their immediate family members, therefore we are now postponing all practice and have tasked our squad with keeping themselves healthy.
“We will continue to monitor this while providing updates to our League’s governors and wait for a directive from them.”
The Wolfpack were due to face Wakefield next Sunday, but according to NRL.com the positive tests could signal the shutdown of the league.
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