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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Newcastle Knights’ Starford To’a and Simi Sasagi cleared of COVID-19 breach

Newcastle Knights players Starford To’a and Simi Sasagi will resume training and be up for selection this week after the COVID-hold placed on them by the NRL was lifted.

The pair were placed into the hold following a reported breach on Sunday that involved the players attending a local rugby league game that same day.

However, the club confirmed in a statement today that the hold has been lifted, effective immediately.

“Following investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit, it was determined that the level of COVID risk exposure for both players was negligible,” the statement read.

“This led to a recommendation that the COVID-hold on To’a and Sasagi be lifted. The recommendation was put to Project Apollo and subsequently supported.

“As a result, both players have been cleared to resume training and will be available for selection going forward.”

Knights coach Adam O’Brien said he was initially disappointed in the players and said it served as a reminder to the team to respect their responsibilities.

“When I first heard about it I was extremely disappointed but I didn’t have all the facts,” he said at a press conference this afternoon.

“Since then, and I think the reason why the Apollo group has cleared them, is that more facts and realities have come to light, that the risk was not existent to catching the virus.”

He added that he would have liked the players to make a better decision but believed the pair just made an error in judgement.

The news of the potential breach was released after To’a played for the Knights in their round 13 clash against Wests Tigers on Saturday night.

To’a scored in Newcastle’s emphatic 44-4 win, which saw the side move up to sixth on the NRL ladder.

New recruit Blake Green also made his debut after joining the squad for the remainder of the 2020 season following the team’s mounting injury toll.

Newcastle will now tackle Manly this Sunday 16 August from 2pm at McDonald Jones Stadium.

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