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Posted by RLPA

July 22, 2015

Players accept rule changes

The Rugby League Players Association has accepted changes to the 2016 Telstra Premiership rules announced today by the NRL but believes the management of player workloads must be a priority.

The changes, which come into effect in 2016, will see a reduction in the number of interchanges from ten per team per game to eight with four players on the bench.

RLPA General President Clint Newton says the playing group was evenly split on whether any change should be made.

“Players would have preferred a trial of the changes prior to their introduction to provide evidence of the impact they will have,” said Newton. “But, if a change was to be made, the majority of Players supported eight or more as the preferred number of interchanges.

“This season has been highlighted by some of the most closely contested and entertaining Games ever,” said Newton. “The level of skill and athleticism on display is incredible.”

The RLPA recognises and fully supports the NRL’s efforts to reduce the number of collision injuries in Rugby League but research by the NRL and feedback from Players indicates that whilst reducing the interchange will likely see a decrease in this area it might result in an increase in soft tissue injuries.

“This is obviously a concern for us and needs to be addressed by Clubs and, more particularly, coaches in their planning,” said Newton. “The physical demands on Players are ever increasing and pose a risk to their wellbeing.

After consultation with the playing group the RLPA has endorsed the changes on the understanding additional resources will be introduced to deal with the expected increase in training intensity, workloads and fatigue for Players.

The RLPA will be actively seeking feedback from Players in the pre-season and throughout 2016 to closely monitor the impact of the changes.

“We are people first and Rugby League players second,” said Newton. “Players are the Game’s most valuable asset but they are not machines so it is everyone’s responsibility to protect their wellbeing.”

A majority of Players have indicated support for a shot clock to be introduced.

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