No exceptions: Major Origin, GF fear in concussion shake-up

The NRL’s biggest stars could be forced to miss the Grand Final under the mandatory 11-day stand-down period for concussion, with no plans for a two-week build up to the big dance.

The game’s biggest stars will now potentially miss Origin matches, multiple club games and grand finals under the new measures introduced ahead of the opening round three clash between Manly and Parramatta on Thursday night.

Senior NRL officials told News Corp there was no desire to have a two-week build-up to grand finals as a way to preserve some of their star talent.

A player who is concussed in a preliminary final will now be ruled out of the decider. The NFL have a two week build-up to its Super Bowl while the AFL have a week off before they start their finals campaign.

Depending on the draw a player will miss one to two club matches under the new measures.

The new requirements also apply to concussions diagnosed at training – each NRL side has two designated spotters at training session and any head injuries are reported to the club doctor.

The commission has also considered an individual concussion package for players that could entail individual pre-season testing and consistent testing throughout the season which may include saliva tests.

“There is no greater priority for us than player safety,” ARL Commission chair Peter V’landsys said.

“It’s front and centre of everything we do. Our current head injury protocols are exceptionally strong. Following a review of the data and the expert advice we have received, the Commission have enhanced these protocols even further by providing a mandatory 11 day stand down period following a diagnosed concussion.”

Club were notified of the changes via email on Wednesday afternoon. Players who suffer a category one concussion will be automatically stood down a minimum of 11 days meaning they could miss two matches.

Category one symptoms include loss of consciousness, failing to protect oneself when falling, impact seizure and unsteadiness on feet. Players who show these signs are instantly ruled out of matches.

Category two symptoms include lying Motionless between two to five seconds, possible impact seizure and slow to stand (15 seconds).

Either the club doctor or the independent doctor can rule a player to have category one or two symptoms.

A category two concussion means a player has failed the concussion test in the dressing room.

The NRL will allow clubs to apply for an exemption to the 11-day period in exceptional circumstances when a player meets a specific set of criteria. This only applies to category two concussions.

This includes; a player is asymptomatic the day following the concussion, the player has suffered fewer than five concussions in their career, has not been diagnosed with a brain injury within the previous three months and there is no history of prolonged recovery after a previous concussion.

The decision was made as the AFL found themselves at the centre of a class action involving more than 60 former players in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The ARL Commission insists their review of concussion guidelines was motivated by a desire to increase protection for players rather than the threat of legal action.


David Riccio

CTE from repeated head knocks doesn’t come with an exemption.

So neither should State of Origin.

The reality of the NRL’s introduction of an 11-day mandatory stand down for category one concussions is that players are going to miss big games.

State of Origin dreams will be shattered. Grand final and finals appearances will be cancelled.

That’s damn tough for a professional athlete. That’s what they live and strive for.

You won‘t catch the game apologising.

The game can’t discriminate by picking and choosing when and when not to put the welfare of the players first. The new rule is about protecting them for the entire season, their career and lives.

As Cronulla’s enforcer Toby Rudolf said yesterday: “If it was up to us (players), we’d play every week, regardless of concussion.’’

Someone has to protect them from themselves. That’s what the game did on Wednesday.

Eleven days is 11 days and if Origin or a finals match just so happens to fall within those 11 days, that’s the cards that are dealt.

The new rule will cost the game and it will also cost clubs and fans.

The biggest names will miss Origin and so too, are they at risk of missing as many as two consecutive NRL games, depending on their team’s draw.

Given the tight turnaround times between matches during the season, missing two games is more likely than not.

It could be the difference between a star player getting their side into the grand final.

It will be cruel for the player, club and fans.

But not as cruel as watching a former player stammer to remember his own son or daughter’s name.

Originally published as NRL concussion rules: Players could miss Grand Final, Origin matches under new 11-day policy

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