NRL introduces new concussion rules with players automatically stood down for an 11-day period

The NRL is poised make the biggest change to its head injury protocols in close to a decade, with players to be ordered to stand down after diagnosed concussions.

The ARL Commission met on Tuesday night to determine updates to the game’s concussion policy before speaking with clubs on Wednesday morning.

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Under the new rules, players who have been diagnosed with a concussion will be automatically stood down for an 11-day period.

That will mean they are guaranteed to miss the following weekend’s matches, and potentially a second game depending on turnaround times.

Some exemptions are likely to remain available depending on the type of diagnosis, with doctors from outside the club to make judgments on less-serious knocks.

The NRL already categorises head knocks during matches based on initial symptoms, with a category one the most serious and category twos requiring an off-field assessment.

Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga suffered a concussion against the Wests Tigers in round two. Credit: Getty Images

ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys said: “There is no greater priority for us than player safety. 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.”

The league spent Wednesday morning delivering the news to clubs, with an announcement likely later in the afternoon.

The updated protocols mark the biggest change to the NRL’s approach to concussions since the introduction of the head injury assessment system in 2014.

They also bring the sport into line with World Rugby, who last year introduced an 11-day stand-down period for the 15-player game.

Manly coach Anthony Seibold on Wednesday backed the move, having experienced the World Rugby system first-hand during his time as an assistant coach with England.

“I have experienced it before and would have no qualms with it,” Seibold said.

“It’s about protecting the players and protecting their health, both in the short-term and long-term.”

Wests Tigers back-rower Shawn Blore failed a HIA test and missed last week’s game against the Knights. Credit: Getty Images

The rules will come into effect immediately, beginning with the round-three opener between Manly and Parramatta.

The changes come days after the latest concussion suffered by Kalyn Ponga, with Newcastle weighing up how to best deal with the Maroons star’s fourth brain injury in 10 months.

Wests Tigers second-rower Shaun Blore also said he supported the rule, after sitting out the club’s loss to Newcastle last week following the first concussion of his career.

“It was weird. I felt pretty funny. I didn’t quite feel 100 per cent,” Blore said.

“They’re pretty nasty things and careers can end pretty early.

“I would be sweet with that move. They are nasty and one of my favourite players Boyd Cordner had to end his career early with a head knock.”

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