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The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) today gave approval for National Rugby League (NRL) 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.

The 18th player must be an NRL registered player who is eligible for selection in that round and part of the 21-man squad selected for the NRL Telstra Premiership game. 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.

The Commission last week gave in principle approval to the activation of the 18th player and sought consultation from all 16 clubs and the RLPA. The feedback was considered and incorporated into the adjusted rule that was formally approved today.

ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’landys AM 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.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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