Manly are demanding an explanation over the 2016 NRL premiership draw, adamant it will place their players’ safety in jeopardy.
The Sea Eagles claim four five-day turnarounds in the opening nine rounds of the competition are “dangerous and unacceptable”.
Of particular concern is a run of three matches in 10 days against heavyweights Cronulla, the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney.
CEO Joe Kelly has written to NRL head of football Todd Greenberg urging a meeting over the issue and detailing the club’s grievances.
“At the moment, we are concerned with an adverse reaction to the draw from our members and we are fully supportive of the view they are expressing,” Kelly said in the missive.
“I can assure them we will be taking up those issues when management gets an opportunity to meet with the NRL face to face.”
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has also singled out Greenberg for an explanation and says the welfare concerns are supported by club medical and fitness staff.
“This club and its players and supporters thrive on adversity but the game is tough enough without having serious player welfare issues put in front of us,” Barrett said in a statement issued on Saturday.
“Some clubs have extra hurdles placed in front of them and other clubs have none.
“This has to be addressed now – not after a player is seriously affected by the unrealistic workload placed upon them by virtue of a draw which smacks of dramatic inconsistency.”
Manly’s chief medical officer, Dr Luke Inman, warned that shortened recovery time raised the spectre of cumulative muscle damage.
“What we can say is that with heavy loads and inadequate recovery, there is an increase in injury risk. Independent of the muscle damage scores, the injury risk is increased up to three-four weeks following the period of increased exertion,” he said.
Dr Inman said he was also worried the clubs most affected by five-day back-ups would have key players missing in the period because of concussion issues.
Players’ Association president Clint Newton also joined with Manly in highlighting the draw’s safety implications.
“Manly’s 2016 schedule highlights the issues we have raised regarding five-day breaks and the cumulative impact this will have on the players from a performance perspective, together with their health and wellbeing throughout the season,” he said.
On Friday, ARL commission chairman John Grant said the league was working towards a more-equitable draw and was sensitive to player welfare.
“In setting up the draw in 2016, in what is a transition year, our objective is to not have any more five-day turnarounds than what there is in this current year.
“In 2017, we’re targeting a reduction of 30-plus per cent in the number of five-day turnarounds,” Grant said.