Chester would give a cautious welcome to an 18th man

Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester admits that he would be prepared to carefully consider the argument for an eighteenth player to be on the bench, ready to step up in the event of a team suffering the loss of one or more players to concussion during a game.

There is currently a proposal in the NRL for a player to be added to the bench so that if a side loses three players to a concussion, it would be able to replace one of them with a player who wasn’t originally selected in the 17-man squad.

Chester is the coaches’ representative on the RFL Laws Committee, and he admits that the subject has been a topic of debate.

“Concussion has certainly been discussed. It’s been brought up during the last two meetings of the Laws Committee,” said Chester.

“In the end nothing happened with it but it’s something we seriously need to think about.

“As soon as you get a head knock these days you have to pass a HIA test and the evidence from Australia suggests that they are getting harder to pass

“So I’m all for bringing an eighteenth man in.

“There seems to be more concussion in the game and we don’t know for certain why that’s happening, but the game every year is getting quicker and quicker, so much more than it was two or three years ago. Perhaps it’s got too quick.

“When players have to leave the field permanently, it means that others are having to play 50 or 60 minutes when normally they would play 20 or 30 minutes. It will be interesting how it all unfolds.

“I’m sure that we as a sport will align ourselves with the NRL, but off the top of my head, from discussions with other coaches there was quite a bit of support in principle for the idea.”

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