The NRL have been campaigning for their fans to get the COVID-19 vaccine and rallying alongside Deadly Choices for the push to get Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities vaccinated.

Being labelled Sport Super Sunday, rugby league fans were encouraged to wear their team colours and support the vaccination drive across the 12 Local Government Areas of concern in NSW last weekend.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce encouraged rugby fans to step up and set a new Super Sunday vaccination record.

“Previous Super Sundays helped vaccinate more than 10,000 supermarket and food industry workers, construction workers and university students in one day, but now it’s time for you to step up for your favourite team or sport,” Ms Pearce said.

“It would be great to see people wearing team colours at our hubs to go into the draw for some great prizes and a chance to prove which code came out the strongest.”

Both NRL and NRLW stars came together to talk about why they’re getting the vaccine in a campaign video.

Bundjalung man and Sharks skipper Wade Graham was born and raised in Blacktown and features in the video. He said his reason for campaigning is simple.

“To get back to doing things as normally as possible, this seems the only way,’’ Graham said.

“As far as I’m aware, COVID is here and it’s never going away. For me, I’d rather face it being vaccinated than face it not being vaccinated.”

Former Indigenous All Stars forward Joel Thompson has also spoken out for the push for vaccinations in regional communities, as concern grows for the number of cases in western NSW.

Thompson contracted COVID-19 after joining the Super League champions in England and knows first-hand how important getting vaccinated is.

Joel Thompson says his view on COVID-19 changed after he and his daughter contracted the virus. Photo via Twitter.

“My opinion has definitely changed around COVID since arriving in the UK,” Thompson told NRL.com.

“My little girl and myself caught COVID within weeks of being in the UK over Christmas. We were both unwell and realised quickly the virus is very real.”

“As a result, I am now fully vaccinated and had the AstraZeneca vaccine, with no side effects at all.”

The Brisbane Broncos are also supporting the ‘I Stepped Up’ campaign by joining Deadly Choices to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to get the vaccine.

Partnering with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) they wore specially designed campaign socks last Saturday to highlight the importance of the vaccine, particularly among South East Queensland’s Indigenous communities.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the league is looking to implement a game-wide vaccination policy at the end of the 2021 season.

By Teisha Cloos