The NRL has approved a rule that will allow an 18th man on the squad as a concussion substitution, and they’re wasting no time in rolling out the decision.
The NRL has approved a rule that will allow an 18th man on the squad as a concussion substitution, and they’re wasting no time in rolling out the decision.

NRL approves the 18th man rule

The NRL has rubber-stamped the introduction of an 18th player, effective immediately.

The ARL Commission on Tuesday morning approved clubs to activate an 18th player when three players fail a HIA, or when a player suffers a match-ending injury caused by foul play and the perpetrator is sin binned or sent off.

Reacting to the code's stiff concussion protocols that have left some clubs with depleted interchange benches, the 18th player must be:

- A NRL registered player who is eligible for selection in that round and part of the 21-man squad selected for the match.

- Clubs will be permitted to select any player from the above mentioned rosters and must identify the player when final team sheets are provided on game day.

- The new rule will be effective from Round 5 and will be further monitored and adjusted if needed.

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Moeaki Fotuaika comes off the ground after being concussed. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Moeaki Fotuaika comes off the ground after being concussed. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

The commission sought consultation from all 16 clubs and the RLPA before confirming the decision.

In an NRL statement, ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys said the decision would provide a safety net for all Clubs and players in uncommon instances of multiple HIAs, and also ensure a team is not disadvantaged when losing a player for the match due to foul play.

"Player wellbeing is a priority for the Commission and this additional safety net ensures players continue to be protected,'' he said.

"Our clubs are outstanding in the way they detect and monitor head injuries and the activation of an 18th player in rare cases of three failed HIAs during a game will ensure continued strict compliance throughout a match.

"We've also approved an 18th player to be activated when a player suffers a match ending injury because of foul play where the perpetrator is sin binned or sent off.

"Why should a team be disadvantaged by an act of serious foul play? This was a strong message from all clubs and fans and the Commission has listened to that feedback.

"We've also listened to clubs and players about the criteria of the 18th player used and will allow the club to select any of its registered players which will enable the most effective team combination on game day. I want to thank all Clubs and the RLPA for their feedback."

Originally published as Revealed: NRL approves 18th man rule


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