NRL considering huge rule changes for 2020
Interchanges could be lifted to 10 amid a host of rule changes being considered by the NRL in a bid to protect players from injury once they return to the field on May 28.
The Sunday Telegraph has learnt a number of proposals are being thought out as part of several committees established by the NRL ahead of their planned return.
Among the considerations include:
- Lifting interchanges from eight to 10.
- Introducing an 18th man who can take to the field if a player is ruled out because of concussion.
- Having a 15-minute halftime instead of 10.
- Potential for drink beaks at the 20th minute mark.
- 20 players available for selection up to an hour before kick-off.
Not all of these proposals will be brought in but they are just some of the measures being discussed in a bid to combat potential injury concerns for players who may be underdone with less than a month of training before they return to the field.
It is also understood they could be introduced for just the opening two to three games before going back to the way things were.
Privately, some coaches believe these changes could reward those individuals who have not committed to a proper training program during the unplanned break and do not want the fabric of the game to be impacted.
The NRL has put together a workload-balance committee who are debating the medical and safety guidelines for the teams, clubs and players.
Aside from potential rule changes to safeguard players, they are also looking at measures to ensure players receive the required support staff in terms of massage therapists and physiotherapists to aid with their recovery and preparation. Clubs may be capped to only having 12-18 staff members with the team.
The committee includes: Wests Tigers high-performance manager Andrew Gray, the NRL's head of elite performance and pathways Troy Thomson, Storm head of football Frank Ponissi, NRL welfare and education manager Paul Heptonstall, Rugby League Coaches Association CEO Kelly Egan and Broncos coach Anthony Seibold.
The committee met for the first time last Thursday and had intended to pass on some recommendations to Project Apollo the next day. But that meeting was cancelled, with Project Apollo due to meet again on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, NRL coaches were part of a phone hook-up on Thursday that Egan described as "a good meeting".
"We had a really good discussion about what clubs will look like when we come back together to restart the competition," Egan said.
Originally published as NRL considering huge rule changes for 2020