The NRL has moved to appease the player’s union over contentious short turnarounds, offering extra accommodation and travel dispensation to ease the burden on clubs.
The relationship between Rugby League Central and the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) thawed after the union was not consulted prior to the release of the 2016 draw last year.
Several clubs remonstrated after being slugged with several five-day turnarounds with Manly coach Trent Barrett labelling their draw as unfair and dangerous after they were scheduled to back up with just a few day’s rest five times over the opening nine rounds.
In the face of concerns about player welfare, the NRL has promised to reduce short breaks by 25 per cent next season and even further in 2018, when the NRL will gain full control of the draw from broadcasters.
There are 31 five-day turnarounds in the first 20 rounds of the draw which have been publicly released but the NRL has promised a range of measure to ease the strain.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said clubs would be offered extra accommodation to help players rest as well as airline lounge membership to make travel less strenuous.
“We made a commitment to the RLPA to work with them to limit the impact of five-day turnarounds and we have agreed on some important measures,” Greenberg said.
“They will all add up to better preparation and recovery for our players.”
RLPA president Clint Newton welcomed the moves as a win for player welfare.
“Our players are professional footballers and to perform at their best they need the right support, resources and facilities to prepare and to recover,” Newton said.