Initiatives to protect player welfare, strengthen the integrity of the game and continue to improve club financial sustainability were supported by NRL, club and state executives in a strategy forum last week.
The conference with Club Executives, together with CEOs from NSWRL and QRL, was held in Auckland in the lead-up to the much-anticipated inaugural Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines.
A key theme of the meeting was measures to protect player welfare through rules to assist the diagnosis and treatment of concussion, a strengthening of the League’s Illicit Testing Policy and the introduction of measures to accurately assess the use of prescription drugs by NRL players.
Key player welfare and integrity initiatives supported by Club CEOs included: steps to strengthen the League’s Illicit Drug Testing policy through centralised testing overseen by the Integrity & Compliance Unit; working with the Rugby League Players Association to finalise the plans for prescription drug testing for 2014 to obtain accurate data and facilitate early welfare intervention; rules mandating the independence of club doctors and requiring regular reporting direct to club boards; new rules for the 2014 NRL season to improve the diagnosis and treatment of concussion, including sideline assessment of players and changes to interchange laws to facilitate diagnosis; and new rules and judiciary guidelines adopted for the 2014 season to protect players from dangerous tackling techniques.
In other matters, the CEOs were briefed on the salary cap review as the NRL moves closer to concluding its wide-ranging review and providing recommendations in the coming months.
The conference was kicked off by NRL CEO Dave Smith, who briefed the CEOs on the performance of the game in 2013 and the NRL’s strategy to continue to strengthen its position and support projects that grow the game.
‘Rugby League is a strong, healthy and growing game that people share. The NRL and CEOs are committed to leading the way in terms of ensuring our game and players continue to be positive role models both on and off the field’, said Mr Smith.
‘The CEO forum has been a powerful exercise in working collaboratively with the CEOs to strengthen and grow our game in every respect.’
Broncos’ CEO Paul White said clubs supported progress made on these important areas of the game and were keen to proactively address those areas within the sport which will make the game safer.
‘The NRL and Clubs are working together to take big steps forward in key areas that are focussed on protecting the health and wellbeing of players and considering new measures that will make our game safer’, said Mr White.