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ARLC gives approval in principle for 18th player

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) today met and gave approval in principle for NRL clubs to activate an 18th player when three players from a team have failed HIA Tests. The rule will commence from Round 5 of the NRL Telstra Premiership season.

The Commission agreed the 18th player must be an emerging player. Before introducing the new measure, the ARLC will consult with the RLPA, Clubs and coaches. Included in the consultation will be the definition of an emerging player. Further, amendments may be made to the measure after such consultation. 

The NRL will meet the travel costs of the 18th player.

ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys AM said the Commission had listened to players and clubs.

“This is a dynamic environment. 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,’’ he said.

“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.”

The Commission was also briefed on the COVID-19 situation. The Commission gave approval for Friday night’s Telstra Premiership match between the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos to proceed at AAMI Park, subject to the approval by the Victorian Government for the Brisbane Broncos to be granted a travel exemption.

A final decision on the location of the match will be made by midday tomorrow.

The Commission agreed if government health orders prevent the match being played in Melbourne the game would be played at Stadium Australia on Friday.

NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the NRL would remain agile to ensure the competition proceeded.

“We have activated the scenario planning we had in place should there be an outbreak. Yesterday we relocated the Brisbane Broncos to Sydney and today we have increased restrictions on players and Clubs,’’ he said.

“We are confident Friday night’s game at AAMI Park will proceed however if the circumstances change then the game will be relocated to Sydney.”