The NRL and Rugby League Players’ Association conceded there’d be no changes to the competition draw for 2016 despite ongoing concerns about the management of player workloads.
Representatives of the two groups met on Tuesday to nut out the issue after the RLPA and a number of players had expressed concerns about clubs having multiple five-day turnarounds between matches again in 2016.
But, despite the NRL conceding it “hadn’t followed the consultation process as agreed with the RLPA” about discussing the issue prior to the draw being locked away, both bodies agreed changes couldn’t be considered until 2017.
“I have told RLPA general president Clint Newton and chief executive Ian Prendergast today that we are targeting a 25 percent reduction in five-day turnarounds in the 2017 season,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said.
“Both parties today acknowledged that it was not possible to change next years draw.”
Greenberg said the talks with the RLPA had been productive and agreed further work would be done over the next fortnight, prior to the next ARL Commission meeting.
“Player wellbeing is a priority for the NRL and we are very mindful of the feedback from the playing group that they wish to see a decrease in five-day turnarounds,” he said.
“We have a unique situation in 2016 where we will have premiership matches from Thursday to Monday regularly and that created some challenges in terms of turnarounds.”
Newton said there had been robust and productive discussions despite the fact changes weren’t possible for next season.
“The NRL has undertaken to explore a number of measures designed to offset the impact of the five-day turnaround in 2016,” he said.
Of the 20 rounds publicly released for 2016 there has been no reduction in the amount of five-day turnarounds, (31) clubs are forced to endure between fixtures.
The AFL has no five-day turnarounds in its schedule.
“The evidence suggests it is very difficult for players to recover from a five day period,” Prendergast said earlier on Tuesday in his first press conference in his new role.
“We are putting players at an unnecessary risk in terms of their health and safety. You would like to think we can find ways to ensure they are not put in this position.
“There needs to be steps put in place to reduce them dramatically which we understood to be the commitment from the NRL.”