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Some of the game's leading coaches and players are supportive of the introduction of an 18th man for concussion from round five but don't believe the additional player will be a major factor this season.

The ARL Commission confirmed the change on Tuesday in a move that will result in an 18th man - an "emerging player" only - take the field should three starting 17 players from the same side fail a head injury assessment during a match. 

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said on Wednesday that choosing what to do with an 18th man each week was a challenge in itself and will wait on details around what constitutes an emerging player, which is expected to be confirmed in the coming days.

Nevertheless, Cleary likened the introduction of an 18th man to a form of insurance.

"I think the game had to do something but it's probably not going to happen very often," Cleary said.

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"It's like flood insurance for a one-in-a-hundred-year flood. You've got to pay the money to be insured, that's how it looks anyway.

"It's quite an expense when you talk of an 18th man and travel but it's insurance and [while] we'd all rather not pay for insurance, that's what insurance is for right? You hope it never happens.

"For as long as I've been doing this I still never know the right thing to do [with an 18th man].

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"To have one and let him play [reserve grade instead], it's always a hard decision as it is.

"The thing I'm not sure about is what is an emerging player and how does it work? If it's a development player you've only got so many. If he's in the top 30 is it under a certain age? It's a difficult one but I just don't see it happening very often at all."

While it is a rare occurrence for three players from the same team to fail HIAs, ARLC chair Peter V'landys said greater awareness and vigilance was likely to see an 18th man required in matches this season.

"We believe that the doctors and the clubs are taking a much more cautious approach with HIA, which we encourage, so we believe there will be cases again this year where there will be three in a match," V'landys told NRL.com on Tuesday night.

"It is only really designed for an emergency situation. There are four interchange players already and if they lose two they still have two others, so basically it's for instances like what occurred on the weekend with Cronulla and Canberra.

Warriors coach Nathan Brown is a fan of an 18th man being brought in but thought the requirement of three failed HIA assessments set the bar too high.

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Coincidentally, Brown was a part of a game as Knights coach in 2016 where Jarrod Mullen, Tyler Randell and Nathan Ross failed to finish the match with head knocks, but he couldn't recall the circumstances. 

"I would have thought two head knocks would be quite fair," Brown said.

"I have seen that quite commonly - we saw Canberra on the weekend where they had two head knocks plus lost a bloke [Tapine] with an injury and then had to leave a player out there with a floating rib.

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"Against the Gold Coast we played in 30-plus degree heat and we had two blokes with head knocks who couldn't go back on plus we had an injury so we had one reserve for a lot of that game and Euan Aitken had to play with a ruptured syndesmosis for 60 minutes."

Canterbury coach Trent Barrett was a fan of the changes but said he was concerned about clubs taking advantage of the new system.

"You saw the carnage last week," he said. "Cronulla and Canberra were pretty hard done by but we'll see how it goes.

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"It's a hard one. I know there will be some teams that will probably try and exploit it [so] I'm not too sure, but I'm glad they're looking to do something."

From a player's perspective, former Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman commended the swift changes after last week's injury toll at new club Cronulla.

The Sharks were among the clubs hardest hit in round three with Wade Graham, Briton Nikora and Will Kennedy failing head injury assessments in their loss to the Eels, while Sione Katoa suffered a knee injury, also in the first half.

"Three concussions in a game is pretty rare as it is [but] obviously [the NRL] are trying to think of ways to better it," Tolman said.

"I think it's a good thing; obviously, they brought it in pretty quick. Whether they thought about it too much, I'm not too sure.

"Obviously player safety is at the forefront of their minds, so from that perspective it's good."

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Sharks playmaker Chad Townsend added: "I think it was an extreme circumstance on the weekend having three guys concussed and fail their tests.

"I understand the NSW Cup has a [concussion] substitute at the moment. I think it's a great idea at that level and to see how it goes and if it works. But do I think it needs to be brought into the NRL? Probably not at the moment, just because that [Eels game] is an isolated case and it's a one-off.

"I don't make the rules, I just follow them, so we'll see what happens.

"In the last 12 months, I feel like I've seen more [new] rules than in my first nine years of first grade."

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