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Club bosses back NRL strategic reviews

NRL Club Chief Executives have given full support to the progress of a number of key strategic reviews aimed at strengthening the game’s pathways, governance and integrity procedures.

The first day of the NRL CEOs Conference of NRL Clubs, NSW and Queensland CEO’s demonstrated the significant progress being made across a number of key areas.

NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, opened the conference highlighting the game’s focus on widening participation, developing stronger financial security for clubs and the game, brand and reputation, fans and members.

Rabbitohs CEO Mr Shane Richardson said that there was clear evidence of progress in addressing these issues:

“We are looking carefully into things that we have argued about for years • and that is really positive.

“A lot of the work that has been taking place behind the scenes, but you could see today that it is taking real shape in going forward.”

NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, said that the meeting was a clear demonstration of how the Chief Executives and the game can work together:

“There is a real willingness among the group to step back and look at the overall picture and we are seeing some real benefit from that.

“There was a real feeling that we are heading in the right direction.”

Among the key areas covered today were:

Changes to Club Integrity and Compliance procedures from 2014 

Following a detailed review of practices at all clubs, the NRL Operations Manual will require all Clubs to have in place:

A Supplement Committee to 
Approve all supplements provided to players
Oversee provision / distribution of supplements
Provide NRL with a list of approved supplements
Maintain register of use
Committee to be comprised of (at least):
Club Doctor
Senior member of Club football operations staff
Senior member of Club management
CEO accountability for Club supplement program
Club Medication Register
No injections unless approved by Club Doctor
No testing for performance enhancing drugs without NRL consent

It will also be required that club doctors will not report directly to the club coach, and will also meet independently with the club board on selected times each year.

The NRL rules are also being strengthened  to ensure that they extend to all support staff and game participants and that the NRL will have the ability to reject the registration application of a club official or to de-register a club official.

Pathways 

The Chief Executives gave their support to the Pathways Review that will see increased funding and support for State League competitions under an NRL Championship banner from 2014.

State League competitions will be more aligned with the NRL in terms of rules, judiciary, refereeing and welfare and education. The draws will also be more aligned with the NRL Telstra Premiership Draw.

The Holden Cup remains a key part of game day and a key pathway towards the NRL with State League competitions seen as the immediate stepping stone for most players.

Key changes are:

$10.8m investment in NSW and Queensland State League Clubs over three years
Creating an NRL Championship Competition played in 2 conferences
Alignment of both seasons to conclude prior to Grand Final
National final as a curtain raiser to the Grand Final
Standardise rules, judiciary and processes across all tiers
Align the pathway for referees, coaches and managers
All NRL clubs to be affiliated with a State League team
Secondary affiliations allowing up to 1/3 of players to compete in another club in either state
Increased commercial partnerships and stature
The Pathways review has also incorporated a focus on providing pathways for girls and women as well as officials.

Salary Cap Review

The NRL Chief Executives have been advised that proposals for change from the salary cap review will be presented in February.

To date the review has demonstrated a wide spread commitment to the retention of a salary cap and support for the benefits it brings the competition.

Ninety-eight percent of those taking part have rated: talent equalisation; financial stability; the attraction and retention of players and governance and efficiency as the central pillars of the cap.

There was widespread respect for the integrity of the system but concern in relation to its complexity.

A review of international salary cap systems as well as a thorough examination of the NRL salary cap has led to a position being reached on a number of commonly raised issues.

Proposals on a range of issues are now under detailed consideration, including
Veteran Player allowances
The ability for individual NRL discretion in recognising a key player’s commercial value to the game
Third party payments
Possible changes to the second tier salary cap
A football apprenticeship system to provide greater support for young players and to standardise payment levels
New appeal models for salary cap rulings
“There is a lot more work to do on this but the thorough consultation process is one that has been strongly supported by all stakeholders,” NRL Chief Operating Officer, Mr Jim Doyle, said today.

“The challenge with the salary cap is that it is central to so many things in the game and that is why we need to ensure that we make change only for the right reasons.”

The Chief Executives reviewed a presentation from the Auckland Nine’s who have outlined plans for the tournament and reiterated their support for the event.

The Australian Drug Foundation also reported on the ground breaking alcohol management project that has been a major investment by the game.

ADF Chief Executive, Mr John Rogerson, said that the NRL was leading sport in this area, and despite some recent issues, was taking a leadership position in changing culture.  

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