Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright insisted he will not be bullied into receiving the flu vaccination ahead of the NRL's return, responding to the Australian prime minister and backlash.
Australian PM Scott Morrison said players refusing the flu shot should not be allowed to take to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the NRL preparing to resume on May 28.
Cartwright has been criticised for refusing the injection and all eyes were on the Titans second-rower as training returned on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old fired back at anti-vaccination claims via social media, writing: "Not once have I said I am anti-vaccinations. I've never claimed to be a doctor or a medical professional and I have never told anyone what they should or shouldn’t do in regards to vaccinations.
"I stand for the freedom to choose what goes into our bodies, I am pro-choice, pro-informed consent and pro-medical freedom. I have nothing against people who choose to vaccinate... so to label me an 'anti-vaxxer' is spreading misinformation.
"The flu shot is not mandatory in the NRL at the moment. Players have been offered a waiver to sign if we don’t want it.
"Giving us the ultimatum of get the shot or be stood down is coercion, and leaking private medical information, that's illegal.
"As for me being the first and apparently only one declining the shot is bull**** and far from the truth. These are our bodies and we decide what goes in them. I know people in my industry with vaccine injured children and the herd NEVER stuck around for them.
"I won't be bullied into making decisions that could impact my health and the health of my family. Thank you for all the messages to those standing in solidarity, I see you."
Meanwhile, Canberra Raiders trio Sia Soliola, Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine will resume training on Thursday after refusing to comply with the NRL's flu vaccination policy.
All NRL teams returned to training midweek, but the Raiders erred on the side of caution as they kept Soliola, Papalii and Tapine away on Wednesday.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner told NRL.com: "Clearly the boys want to be back at training. They want to train and we want them there. We're just working through the right protocols with the NRL.
"It's clearly new ground for all of us. This is not a normal year, it's anything but a normal year with some extraordinary circumstances that are coming up but we are getting them back to training today and then we'll await further information and instruction from the NRL."