Blue Bombers suspend Canadian offensive lineman Asotui Eli

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ offensive lineman Asotui Eli has been placed on the club’s suspended list, as per Darrin Bauming.

First piece of hard news developing here in Hamilton ahead of the #GreyCup. #Bombers O-lineman Tui Eli has been placed on the suspended list — presumed to be the Winnipeg player not able to travel due to Covid-19 protocols/vaccination. Mike O’Shea will address Wednesday.

The University of Hawai’i product was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 CFL Draft and spent most of his rookie season on the practice roster, dressing for five games. He returned for the 2021 season in considerably better shape and earned a full-time role on the active roster, starting four games at right guard.

The 26-year-old was once considered one of the best centres in the NCAA and returned to the field in 2019 after briefly quitting football amid an ACL tear he suffered in 2018.

The federal government recently introduced new regulations barring individuals who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 from air travel. Blue Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea has previously indicated that the team’s tier-one personnel is 99 percent vaccinated.

If Eli is ineligible to participate in the Grey Cup on Sunday, he would likely be replaced on the roster by Canadian centre/guard Chris Kolankowski who was placed on the one-game injured list prior the West Final.

The club also has former first-round draft pick and Winnipeg native Geoff Gray on the roster who was a backup in 2021 but started 12 games at guard in 2019.