<
>

No jab, no play: Bulldogs part ways with unvaxxed John Asiata

Canterbury have parted ways with forward John Asiata by mutual consent after the 28-year-old's one-year contract was torn up by the club.

Asiata signed with the Bulldogs for the 2022 season after a stint with the Brisbane Broncos, but was handed a termination notice last month with the club requiring all players to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The NRL does not have a mandate in place for players to be fully vaccinated unlike the AFL, but Canterbury have been firm on their stance as an organisation.

"The Bulldogs and John Asiata have agreed to part ways by mutual consent," the club said in a statement.

"Asiata, signed with the club this season, but had yet to train with the squad.

"The Bulldogs wish John and his family all the best for the future."

Canterbury football manager Phil Gould said he was "hoping" Asiata would change his mind last month, but the club would explore options should he decide to not roll up his sleeves.

In November the NRL estimated around 20-24 players were yet to be vaccinated. CEO Andrew Abdo was forced to defend the governing body's policy, saying he didn't think there was "anything soft" about their rules.

"We want people to have the freedom of choice, which I think is important," Abdo said.

"But we are putting health at the forefront of our policy which is why we believe in vaccination, we want everyone to get vaccinated."

In his career Asiata played 139 NRL games, mainly with the North Queensland Cowboys where he won a premiership in 2015.

The 28-year-old signed with the Broncos in 2021 but only managed 10 games for the club.