NRL clubs will be able to call on an emerging player as an 18th man if three members of their team fail HIA tests in a match under changes to be introduced from round five.
The ARLC gave in principle approval for the introduction of the 18th man after Cronulla were forced to play the second half of last weekend’s match against Parramatta with no reserves and Sydney Roosters and Canberra were down to just one interchange in their games.
The Commission agreed that the 18th man must be an emerging player and will consult with the RLPA, clubs and coaches to finalise details of the new rule.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys said the Commission had listened to players and clubs.
“This is a dynamic environment,” V’landys said. "As a Commission we have always said we would be agile in changing rules when it is in the best interests of the game and this is one of those examples.
"We see this as an opportunity to give an emerging player a taste of first grade rugby league in their team’s time of need.
"The 18th player will also have to be rotated weekly so you don’t have a young player missing out on playing lower grades every week.”
"All fans agree we don’t want to see a situation where a club is left with one player on the bench and this rule change will provide insurance for all clubs.
“It will also only be activated in the most dire of circumstances for a club, so we don’t see it having a material impact on games every week.”
More to come …