This year the NRL introduced new concussion rules to deal with the management of players who suffer head knocks, entirely for the benefit of the players. This is a great scheme and is long overdue.
However, it also needs some extra work.
Some clubs are sticking by decisions to omit players from a game if they suffered concussion the week before, while others are opting against this. Many over the course of the year will end up being inconsistent with this rule depending on who it is that cops the head knock.
The NRL should step in and say that, in the benefit of player safety, any player who has been deemed to have suffered concussion (whether it be mild or severe) is not permitted to play for the next 10 days. This rule would also ensure that diving is not condoned or promoted, as any player who tries to dive to get a player sin binned will not be allowed to play the following week.
Further to this, each club should be allowed to replace a concussed player with a fresh reserve from outside their starting 17 players, with no loss of interchange. I'd also only allow NSW Cup players to fill these roles.
If the players concussion is the result of an illegal play, the offender (if he hasn't been sent off) should be sin-binned for 10 minutes, put on report, his team penalised and the sin binning should count as one interchange when he runs off the field (despite not being replaced). This would prove to be quite a strong deterrent from high tackles. There is no purpose for players to tackle around a players head and if the NRL is serious about reducing the risk of head injuries, then they need to have a hard line stance across the board.
Mistakes and accidents do happen; they are unavoidable in a body contact sport.
Some have suggested that a sin binned player should be replaced, but I think this fails to be a punishment. Players need to know and learn that their actions impact their team very heavily so as to help promote safe and fair play and to reduce the number of illegal incidents that happen in the game, specifically those impacting a players head.
The NRL took a strong stance last year when they introduced the one punch rule. And as a whole, it has been a great success. My idea should be seen as an extension of that.
The time to act is now.