“That thought definitely went through my head,” Tolman said.
“You follow all the protocols, you do everything right, then something that is out of your control could have been the game’s undoing. You never wanted to be the person to do that.”
The Canterbury prop spoke to the Herald on Monday about his 10 days in isolation, two COVID-19 tests and hopes to rejoin the Bulldogs’ bubble on Saturday in time to face Wests Tigers.
When Tolman checked the school notifications from Laguna Street Public School, he quickly contacted Bulldogs club doctor Dave Givney and club boss Andrew Hill.
As an extreme precaution, and knowing he might need 14 days to isolate, Givney told Tolman to immediately go to his spare bedroom and lock himself in for the night so he would be a chance to return two weeks later.
“That’s what the club told me, and that was the worst-case scenario,” Tolman said.
“I didn’t come into contact with the kids that night. The next day they all went to get tested, but I got up early and drove to the Prince Of Wales Hospital where I was tested and could get the results back in two hours.
“I still had the hope I was going to be playing that Sunday against the Roosters. I got the test results back about midday and they come back clean, but I still had to isolate.
“The NRL did not want to take any risks, which is understandable. I ended up spending three nights in a hotel down at Cronulla above Northies. There wasn’t much to do. I had just started watching Game Of Thrones. I got through about three series.”
When it became clear Tolman was no hope to return for the weekend’s clash against the Sharks, he returned home to isolate with his wife Zarinah, and their three kids, aged eight, six and three.
He has not been able to leave the house. Uber Eats has been on speed dial. Canterbury officials dropped weights at his front door. He’s also used an exercise bike.
The house arrest ends Thursday when his children return to school, two weeks after any student last had contact with the infected teacher. Tolman himself can also go for a gallop around the local park.
Provided a third test is all clear on Friday, Tolman will take part in Saturday’s captain’s run.
The 31-year-old cannot wait to help the Dogs, and hopefully extend his stay beyond this season.
“I still believe I’ve got plenty to offer the game,” Tolman said.
“I’ve been here 10 years, I’ve seen some good times and some tough times the past few years, but I’d love to see the club get back up to where it should be and wants to be and I’d love to be a part of it.”
In Tolman’s absence, the pressure on coach Dean Pay hasn’t eased off. It irks the Canterbury prop, who is a big supporter of his coach.
“We all respect ‘Deano’ and he brings that tough attitude to the Bulldogs, which is what this club is built on,” Tolman said.
“We’re not losing through a lack of effort. Our cap was a mess for a long time, we had to let a lot of players go we wouldn’t have liked to, particularly in Deano’s first year, and now is the time to give him the opportunity … let him get the team he wants and once he’s got that team, judge him then. It’s harsh to judge him right now.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.