North Queensland star Matt Scott has slammed the NRL’s approach to player welfare, claiming it is not taking the issue of player burnout seriously.
Both Manly and Sydney Roosters have angrily questioned aspects of the 2016 season draw released on Friday, which NRL head of football Todd Greenberg conceded contains the same number of five-day turnarounds – 43 – as in 2015.
On Monday, Scott became the first high profile player to criticise the NRL’s 2016 scheduling as premiers North Queensland returned to preseason training.
“It is disappointing we didn’t see an improvement (in five-day turnarounds) next year,” Scott told reporters in Townsville.
“I haven’t had a close look at what we (the Cowboys) have to deal with but I think with five-day turnarounds it is just unreasonable to ask players to have to back up like that.
“There is a lot of talk about player welfare but I don’t think it is being taken seriously at the moment.”
The Roosters, Manly and Wests Tigers are the clubs hardest hit with four short turnarounds in the first 20 rounds. The Sea Eagles are asked to play three games in the space of 10 days between rounds three and five.
Manly met with the NRL to discuss the issue on Monday, while the Roosters have also expressed their disquiet with the game’s administration and sought a meeting.
Rugby League Players’ Association boss Clint Newton has also spoken out on the issue and will meet with the NRL on Tuesday.
North Queensland only have one five-day turnaround next season.
But Australia and Queensland prop Scott, who underwent offseason surgery for a neck problem, pointed to the reduction in the interchange from 10 to eight for next year as another reason for a reduction in the demands of players.
However he held out little hope there would be any changes made to next season’s draw.
“I know the NRL are restricted there with the broadcast rights but it would have been nice there to see change,” he said.
“We have lessened the interchange so there is going to be a bigger toll on our bodies.
“Each year we (North Queensland) say we have own our problems to deal with, with travel and players backing up, and we just have to deal with what we have been given.”
“As far as our draw goes there is nothing we can do about it.”