Calls are growing louder for the NRL to introduce an 18th man as a concussion substitute after the league was rocked by a spate of horror injuries on the weekend.
The Raiders were left with one fit player on the bench in their loss to the Warriors on Saturday while the Sharks played the entire second half with just 13 men in their 28-4 defeat to Parramatta.
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Images of empty chairs on both teams’ benches exposed the alarming rate of injuries and particularly concussions, which some pundits are speculating may be related to new rules introduced this season that have sped the game up even further.
Dylan Edwards and Tom Eisenhuth suffered a broken hand and broken ribs respectively in Penrith’s win over Melbourne on Thursday, while the Roosters were crippled in their loss to South Sydney.
Lindsay Collins was taken to hospital after a shocking head knock, Lachlan Lam is facing six weeks out with a knee injury and gun halfback Luke Keary will likely miss the rest of the season after damaging his ACL.
Quiet few days on the Twitter machine pic.twitter.com/ZRB8b8zORa
The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield believes teams and doctors are taking concussion more seriously than ever, so are being more cautious about players returning to the field, and says stars are bigger, faster and stronger than at any point in history, increasing the risk of injury.
“Shame we’re not talking about the footy. It’s injuries and carnage — catastrophic carnage, you could say,” he told the Big Sports Breakfast.
“I can’t recall a casualty ward like we’ve got in the game at the moment.
“Sadly I think when you look at that Parramatta-Cronulla game the other night and they were left without a bench the entire second half, I think it affects the product. Players are playing just to survive and stay on the field and are probably not as energetic as they would be if they had back-up ready to come onto the field.”
The NRL Commission will reportedly meet this week to discuss whether teams should be able to name an 18th man, who can be brought on in the event a player is ruled out with concussion.
“You can’t have a crackdown on concussion and then not do anything with the benches,” Rothfield said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen an injury toll like it.”
Rugby league legend Laurie Daley said the 18th man should be introduced — as long as they are used only as concussion replacements, and not for any other injury like a hamstring strain or twisted knee.
Rothfield added: “I think it’s a really, really responsible thing to do because we don’t want to get to a stage where doctors are going to be under pressure to sign off on players coming back onto the field.
“With an 18th man, that eases the pressure on the doctors, the medical staff. It’s obviously a really big issue for the game.
“We’ve got to think about the players and their health and safety.
“I know we always have injuries at the start of the season but we’ve never had a game with so much fatigue in it, so much intensity … in the history of the game.”
It was a painful weekend across the NRL.Source:Getty Images
Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys isn’t buying the new rules and increased speed of the game is to blame for the scary injury toll, telling The Daily Telegraph: “The injuries are on average with what they have been in previous years. Everything has to be done with the appropriate data and information to back it up.
“We are privy to information people don’t get so we can see if it’s an issue or not. I’m not ruling it (an 18th man) out but I am one of seven (ARL commissioners) and management will have a say as well. I’ve got an open mind and will try and do what is best for the game.”
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