Friday night’s press conference at 4 Pines Park was thrown into disarray after a positive Covid-19 RAT test was found in the venue’s media room.
In Round 21, Parramatta Eels beat Manly Sea Eagles 36-20, with winger Micah Sivo scoring twice for the visitors.
But after the final siren, Manly captain Daley Cherry-Evans opted not to hold a post-match press conference after reporters found a positive RAT cartridge in the media room.
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Sea Eagles coach Des Hassler’s interview went ahead as planned, but Eels adviser Brad Arthur played it safe and held the press conference in the hallway outside the restroom.
Meanwhile, Parramatta players refused to be interviewed after the game to avoid the risk of exposure to the deadly virus.
News Corp’s Martin Gabor tweeted: “Drama at 4 Pines Park. A positive RAT was found in the post-match press conference room. Des Hasler did the press conference but DCE played it safe. The iles are concerned and their printing seems to lag and move.
AAP’s Scott Bailey posted: “Absolutely shambolic scenes at Brookvale. Positive RAT cartridge sitting in the prepared press conference room. None of the journalists behind it. DCE opted out of the press, with Brad Arthur moving out and no LL players talking as a result.
A positive RAT test was later dismissed by NRL officials. It was not clear where the cartridge came from.
It was a back-and-forth affair at 4 Pines Park on Friday, with Manly leading 20-14 after the break.
But the Eels’ campaign got off to a flying start as winger Waka Blake made his 150th appearance, diving in a corner to score a stunning goal in the 55th minute.
The Ells flyer latched on to a perfectly on-point pass from young teammate Jacob Arthur and somehow managed to connect the ball inches from his knee.
It proved to be the turning point for the Eels, who scored three late tries to blow away the Sea Eagles and end Manly’s season as the life supporter.
“It was a big time, wasn’t it?” Els coach Arthur told reporters after the 16-point victory.
“It really got us back into hunting. Good for Jake’s confidence too.
“I’m very happy with Waka, he’s a player who doesn’t get a lot of praise but he competes in every competition for us.” He has had some injuries in the last couple of years but he always works hard to get back on the field.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Sea Eagles are now 10th on the NRL ladder, four points out of the top eight, while the Eels are fifth on 28 competition points.