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Welch fined by NRL, stood down over biosecurity breach

A "shattered" Christian Welch has been has been fined $10,000 by the NRL and stood down by the Storm for inviting an unregistered guest into the club's COVID-19 bubble on the Sunshine Coast.

Welch will miss Saturday's clash against Wests Tigers and was served with a breach notice by the NRL after Melbourne informed head office of the COVID-19 breach.

He was hit with a $20,000 fine although half of that amount is suspended.

"Complying with the protocols is absolutely critical to our season. The protocols ensure we protect the safety of our players, staff and the community,'' NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.  

"Any player or official who breaches the protocols will face a significant fines. The overwhelming majority of our players and officials have done the right thing throughout a very challenging season. It is critically important that compliance continues."

Welch apologised via a Storm statement on Friday.

Storm v Wests Tigers - Round 19

"I’m incredibly remorseful and sorry for my actions," Welch said.

"I love this game and everything it has given me and I’m shattered that I have let everyone down.

"Calling my parents to let them know about this was the worst phone call I’ve ever made.

"I know it’s a privilege to play in the NRL and I want to apologise to all for any damage I have caused."

The Queensland Origin prop has been tested for COVID-19 and will remain in isolation until results are returned.

Storm players were set to have completed their mandatory 14-day isolation period as of midnight on Friday, having last travelled to NSW on September 4 to play the Rabbitohs.

"As of midnight last night, all members of the Storm group residing in the club’s “bubble” had reverted to non-quarantine protocols," the club's statement said.

"This allows for members of the Storm bubble to leave the Twin Waters resort, provided they continue to comply with NRL and government protocols."

Calling my parents to let them know about this was the worst phone call I’ve ever made.

Christian Welch

Melbourne have been based on Queensland's Sunshine Coast since July.

In better news for both Welch and the Storm, it's understood a two-year extension is close to being officially announced by the club after he knocked back a lucrative offer from St George Illawarra recently.

Welch's absence when they host the Tigers could well be offset by the early return from a facial fracture by Kiwi international Brandon Smith.

Smith was initially named in Melbourne's 21-man squad for the clash but has completed all training sessions this week in a bid to get back on the paddock leading into the finals.

Meanwhile Raiders centre Curtis Scott was handed a breach notice for engaging in drunken behaviour in Moore Park in January.

Scott had five charges - including assaulting a police officer - dropped last week but did plead guilty to lesser charges of public nuisance earlier in his case.

He can avoid a $15,000 fine if completes an education and counselling program by the NRL's Wellbeing & Education Department on the excessive use of alcohol. 

"Our players are role models in the community and must set an example for young people who look up to them,'' Abdo said. 

"In our view, Curtis should not have placed himself in a position where he was found in the state that he was in. That sort of behaviour is not acceptable and impacts on the reputation of our game and our brand."