The NRL has appointed a new Chief Medical Officer and established a dedicated Medical and Player Safety Advisory Group as part of its 2015 campaign to improve player safety.
In addition, the NRL has completed the first phase of its best practice review in sports medicine, which will assist in driving continued cultural change to recognise it is not brave for players to continue to play while concussed or otherwise in a condition putting the player’s long term health at serious risk.
Head of Football Todd Greenberg said there is no more important aspect to the game than player safety.
He said Dr Paul Bloomfield, an experienced Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician, will begin immediately as the NRL’s CMO.
He takes over from Dr Ron Muratore who has stepped down after six years in the role.
Dr Bloomfield will work closely with the CMO’s of all 16 clubs with a focus on policy development.
A dedicated Medical and Player Safety Advisory Group has also been set up to develop policy for player safety.
It will comprise Dr Ken Crichton, Dr Donald Kuah and Dr Carolyn Broderick – all highly qualified medical specialists with wide experience.
Mr Greenberg said the appointment of the CMO and the Medical & Player Safety Advisory Group were recommendations from the new best practice review aimed at improving player safety over the longer term.
Other key recommendations of the first stage of the campaign are:
• Changing the culture in the game to recognise it is stupid – not brave – to play while concussed. This will be done principally through education of coaches, officials and players
• Continue to use the laws of the game to help reduce injuries, particularly to the head and neck.
• Ensure clubs continue to appoint qualified medical officers who have complete oversight for medical decision making.
Mr Greenberg said the NRL had made huge progress in dealing with head injuries last year with the introduction of new concussion laws.
“I have no doubt that there are many players who avoided more serious injuries and damage because the new laws identified they were not fit to return to the field,” he said.
“We have to put an end to the notion that players are brave if they keep playing when they should be under treatment by a doctor.
“Our aim has to be to look after the long term safety of our players and we need the clubs, the players and coaches to continue to work with us in changing that culture.”