Former Gold Coast Titans player Bryce Cartwright and his anti-vaxxer wife Shanelle have split up after a tough year making headlines in 2020.
The 25-year-old signed a contract with the Parramatta Eels late last year for the 2021 season after relocating to NSW with his wife and their two children, Koa and Naia, for personal reasons.
While the reasons weren’t cited at the time, the pair no longer have any photos of each other on their Instagram accounts and aren’t following each other.
“I know he’s had some family dramas and he’s gone to Sydney to sort some stuff out … hopefully he is OK with his family,” Titans captain Kevin Proctor told The Daily Telegraph last September, admitting he was worried about his teammate.
That same month Cartwright told 9 News the couple had been sent vile threats from people on social media, involving their children, because of their stance on vaccinations.
“At some point it does take a toll,” he said.
“I speak to a counsellor every now and then just to clear my mind.”
RELATED: NRL anti-vaxxers told to shut up and get the flu shot
Cartwright’s agent Allan Gainey, of Pinnacle Sports Management, said they wouldn’t be commenting on the split because it was a “personal matter”.
“Look, the kid is in a good spot at the moment and I want to keep him in that spot,” he said.
“He doesn’t need any publicity surrounding his personal life.”
Gainey said anyone “going through a separation, possible separation or divorce” would not want it in the media.
“It’s a personal affair,” he said.
Cartwright took a drastic pay cut in order to get another opportunity in the NRL, agreeing to a minimum-wage contract after the Titans negotiated a release when the 25-year-old made plans to return to Sydney.
The Titans said they had concerns for the star’s welfare when they let him out of his contract, reportedly worth $450,000, following headlines in May when he was granted permission to play despite refusing a mandatory influenza vaccination under the NRL’s return-to-play regulations.
He was granted the special exemption on “medical grounds” by Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young.
His high profile stance attracted plenty of support from Australian stars, including former Home And Away actor Isabel Lucas.
But many lashed out at the couple after Mrs Cartwright shared several Instagram posts from Taylor Winterstein – wife of former NRL star Frank Winterstein – comparing the plight of anti-vaccination advocates to Jews during the Holocaust.
In May, Mrs Cartwright posted an image of Holocaust victim Anne Frank with the caption: “The people who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law, the people who killed her were following it.”
Despite the backlash, Mrs Cartwright didn’t back down on her assertion, sharing more Holocaust posts later.
While those posts have been deleted, in August she shared another Holocaust meme seemingly related to the coronavirus pandemic.
RELATED: Taylor Winterstein defends Cartwright couple’s anti-vaccination stance
RELATED: Cartwright’s wife hits out again in vaccination storm
While Mrs Cartwright has removed any photos of her husband from her account, the only remaining picture of him is the one she posted in May detailing their anti-vaccination stance.
The couple maintained they were not “anti-vax” but pro-choice.
In a telling Instagram post on October 9 she shared a billboard sign that read, “Stop f***ing with people who make you feel average”.
On Christmas Day she posted a photo with her kids saying, “Merry Christmas all, love from me and my babies”, while Cartwright also posted a solo shot with the kids for Christmas.
Some of Mrs Cartwright’s Instagram posts have been censored because of misinformation warnings.
In a July post, she wrote, “It’s just a vaccine. Just a vaccine that holds no one responsible if you’re injured by it. Just a vaccine that hasn’t undergone the rigorous testing it needs to. Just a vaccine that isn’t vegan, isn’t certified halal, isn’t organic but is still apparently a one size fits all. How is the same vaccine for a fully grown man suitable for a new born child? Will this vaccine undergo a double blind placebo? (the GOLD STANDARD for any pharmaceutical product).”
While COVID-19 vaccine trials have moved forward considerably since then, even at the time they were undergoing rigorous testing.
Claims they are unsafe have been repeatedly refuted and are backed by scientific evidence and countless studies.