Major concussion shake-up for every rugby league club in Australia

Major concussion shake-up for every rugby league club in Australia

“The graduated return to play has six steps in it and we want to get rid of the perception there’s a mandated time out of the game and then you can return.

“This is now a national policy across the game and the opening statement says the guidelines have been developed based on the fifth International Conference on Concussion in Sport.

Boyd Cordner is assisted from the field after suffering a head knock in the opening State of Origin clash in 2020.Credit:Getty

“This has given us something that is very, very concrete and consistent across that community level of the game.”

The stand-down policy will also apply for the NSWRL’s elite competitions, including the NSW Cup, which begins on Friday.


In an Australian first, the NSWRL introduced an 18th man concussion substitute for all its competitions last year. It allowed clubs to carry an additional player on the bench to be used in the case of another being ruled out of the match with a head knock. But the majority of NSWRL competitions were reduced or scrapped altogether last year due to COVID-19, meaning there was little opportunity to see the rule in effect.

The NRL will this year establish a concussion committee to examine the competition’s protocols, which are separate to the new policy that will be applicable to its affiliates.

The issue of concussion has again been a hot topic in recent months after the Roosters said Boyd Cordner would miss at least the first 12 rounds of this season as the result of a concussion during last year’s State of Origin series opener.

The NSWRL was issued with a formal warning after Cordner went back on the field in Adelaide with the Blues skipper standing down from the rest of the series.

The NRL is set to approve a $350,000 salary cap exemption for the Roosters, given Cordner’s head knock was sustained in a representative match.

Queensland’s Cameron Munster played a starring role in the Maroons’ series-deciding win over NSW, only seven days after he suffered a heavy concussion in game two.

But community rugby league players won’t be allowed to get back on the field as quickly under the new protocols.

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