Weekend NRL trial matches due to be played in extreme heat are unnecessarily risking players’ welfare, according to Wendell Sailor.
Above 40-degree temperatures are predicted to hit Sydney and surrounds across the weekend, prompting Canterbury to push back Saturday’s NRL trial with Penrith at Belmore in the city’s west by an hour to 7pm.
South Sydney and Manly’s trial is planned for a 7.30pm kick-off on Saturday despite the mercury in Campbelltown tipped to reach 45 degrees during the day.
Former NRL star Sailor said the games should be postponed until the heatwave subsides.
“It’s one thing I can’t figure out. As a player … you enjoyed playing the trials, but not in 35-40 degree heat,” he told Triple M.
“It’s ridiculous. The athletes and footballers these days push themselves as it is.
“Some people say it’s a necessary evil. I don’t think so. It’s a long enough season, the wear and tear and player welfare.
“It’s not needed. It’s ridiculous.”
There’s also concern for junior players, with several National Youth Competition trial games scheduled before NRL matches on Saturday afternoon.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said the league’s heat policy put the decision to play into medicos’ hands, with discussions underway about weekend trials.
“The people who are most qualified to make decisions on player welfare are our doctors, our sports medics,” Greenberg told reporters on Friday.
“Those are the people over the course of the weekend that will do that in consultation with the policy in our heat guidelines.
“Club doctors will liaise also with the NRL’s chief medical officer.
“But primarily, the policy works in that people who make the decisions are the ones with the highest qualifications which are our sports medics.
“They will follow the heat guidelines. If and when we have to make decisions, they’ll do that in consultation with both teams.”
The A-League has postponed the Saturday afternoon’s fixture between Newcastle and Melbourne Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium to Monday night.
Football Federation Australia’s heat policy enables consideration for time changes when a game is set to be played in above-28 degree temperatures.
St George Illawarra’s trial match against Wests Tigers on Saturday could also be affected by heat, with Wollongong predicted to peak in the mid-30s.
The heat has prompted NSW Health to advise people to limit physical activity, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and sugary drinks and try to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.