NRL news 2022: Positive Covid-19 test cartridge disrupts press conference, Manly vs Eels score

Friday night’s press conference at 4 Pines Park was turned upside down after a positive RAT Covid-19 test was discovered in the venue’s designated media room.

The Parramatta Eels beat the Manly Sea Eagles 36-20 in the Round 21 contest, with winger Maika Sivo scoring a brace for the visitors.

But after the final siren, Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans chose not to hold a post-match press conference after reporters discovered a positive RAT cartridge in the media room.

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Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler’s interview went as planned, but Eels mentor Brad Arthur played it safe and held his press conference in the hallway outside the bathroom.

Meanwhile, Parramatta players refused to do any post-match interviews to avoid any risk of exposure to the deadly virus.

Martin Gabor of News Corp tweeted: “Drama at 4 Pines Park. A positive RAT was found in the post-match press conference room. Des Hasler made his press conference but DCE played it safe. The eels are worried and it looks like their presser will be delayed and moved.

AAP’s Scott Bailey posted: “Absolute shambolic scenes at Brookvale. Positive RAT cartridge seated in the designated press conference room. None of the reporters behind. DCE backed off the pressure as Brad Arthur moved his outside and no Eels player spoke accordingly.

The positive RAT test was later withdrawn by an NRL official. We still don’t know where the cartridge came from.

It was a back-and-forth affair at 4 Pines Park on Friday, with Manly taking a 20-14 lead after the half-time break.

But the Eels’ fightback began in spectacular fashion when winger Waqa Blake, playing his 150th game, dove for the corner to score a superb 55th-minute try.

Hanging on to a perfectly aimed slick pass from young team-mate Jakob Arthur, the Eels flier swooped in and managed to pin the ball down with his knees inches off the turf in contact.

This proved to be the turning point for the Eels, who scored three late tries to blast the Sea Eagles and leave Manly’s season on life support.

“That was a great moment wasn’t it?” Eels coach Arthur told reporters after the 16-point win.

“It really got us back in the hunt. Good for Jake’s confidence too.

“Really happy for Waqa, he’s the kind of player who doesn’t get a lot of accolades but he takes part in every competition for us. He’s had a few injuries in the last couple of years but he’s still working the hardest to come back in the field.

With four games remaining in the regular season, the Sea Eagles are now four points off the top eight in 10th place in the NRL standings, while the Eels have moved to fifth with 28 competitive points.

Originally published as “Shambolic scenes”: a positive Covid-19 test cartridge plunges the NRL press conference into disarray