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Australian players in isolation over flu

THE entire Queensland state rugby league squad, including Australian national team captain Darren Lockyer, have been quarantined after one of the players contracted the H1N1 influenza virus.

Queensland forward Ben Hannant picked up the virus after last Wednesday's State of Origin match against New South Wales in Melbourne and the team doctor had ordered players to be quarantined for 72 hours, local media reported.

Gold Coast Titans forward Ashley Harrison and St. George Illawara winger Darius Boyd were also stood down by Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) from Monday's match because they were in a camp with Queensland last week.

The NRL, which administers the weekly club competition and the representative fixture, said neither Harrison or Boyd had tested positive but had been stood down at the direction of public health authorities.

"We have spent considerable time consulting health authorities to ensure that we are following all proper advice," NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said in a statement.

"Clearly we are dealing with a major public health issue and the NRL is committed to working closely with the health authorities."

None of the New South Wales players needed to be quarantined.

The Brisbane Broncos had six players quarantined, while three players from the North Queensland Cowboys and two coaching staff were also missing from training yesterday with their clubs.

Auckland Warriors captain Steve Price, who also played for Queensland, was also told to stay away from his club, the New Zealand Press Association reported.

Queensland and Broncos skipper Lockyer told reporters in Brisbane yesterday that he and the five other players from his club had been taking the Tamiflu medication as a precaution.

"We spent three days together in Melbourne and... we'll just have to wait and see," Lockyer said. "We've heard plenty about it but you don't think about it until it's on your door and all we can do is take all the precautions."

The flu, a mixture of swine, bird and human viruses, has infected nearly 22,000 people in 69 countries and killed 125, according to the World Health Organization.


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