The last thing any NRL team wants, is to have a player forced from the field early on in the game, due to a player getting injured – something that a few teams have fell victim to already this season.
As a result of that, the push for a compulsory 18th man to enter the side following the injury, as to not disadvantage a team forced to play with only 16 men, is gaining momentum rather quickly.
The push comes after the Eels were forced to play for 79 minutes with only 16 players, with prop Fuifui Moimoi concussed on the very first hit of the game, after a high shot from prop Sam Kasiano.
With Moimoi lasting just 10 seconds in the game, resulting in his being helped from the field by the officials – the collision, one which may see Kasiano suspended, has reignited debate that the ARLC should implement a system, as to not leave the teams disadvantaged.
Whilst the Eels were not charged an interchange as a result of Moimoi leaving the field, having only three players gives the team a distinct disadvantage, in light of tiring forwards towards the end of the game.
Nathan McGuirk, the ARL Commission’s Football Operations Manager, said that the idea of an 18th man possibility, was currently being considered.
“It is one of the issues that was flagged by the Commission late last year, and it is one they believe had merit”, McGuirk said.
“They will be taking a closer look at it, and that will happen towards the back end of this year.”
The decision will not be an easy one, however, with the current ARL Committee, having to decide whether or not the replacement comes straight away, or later on in the game – should a player attempt to play on, before conceding that they cannot at half-time?
“We have got to understand the ramifications around making any significant change, whether it be the implications on the salary cap or the impact it could have on the game,” McGuirk said.
“It is just something we have got to put the right processes around. We will see how it comes out, once we have a look at it at committee level, then we will speak to the clubs. Only then would we be looking to make any formal recommendations.”