The NRL has today (Wednesday 15th July) launched what it calls a `whole of game Foundation’, to provide assistance to players who sustain catastrophic injuries.
CEO, Dave Smith, said the NRL was determined to provide support for players who suffer catastrophic injuries playing Rugby League.
The NRL already has in place an insurance scheme which provides compensation of up to $1 million, to NRL players who suffer severe injuries. But Smith said the Foundation has been established to provide immediate support, and in addition insurance to assist with interim medical bills and other expenses.
It would also provide one-off funding, when the injury occurs, to help meet initial medical costs and also the cost of travel and accommodation for family members, so they can be near the injured player.
Mr Smith said the Foundation would be launched this weekend – during the Men of League Heritage Round.
This weekend the NRL clubs will devote $1 from every ticket sold, to support the Foundation and the RiseForAlex Fund. The NRL has provided, and will continue to provide support to Alex McKinnon in his rehabilitation journey.
Mr Smith said the fund would continue to grow in the coming years through fund raising activities.
“The Foundation will continue to build,” he said, “so it can provide assistance to those few players who do suffer catastrophic injuries in our game. This week is particularly important because, not only are we continuing to show our support for Alex McKinnon, we are putting in place a support system for the future for players who suffer such injuries.
The Foundation would provide support for players at all levels, he said, from schoolboys and juniors right through to the NRL, who are catastrophically injured while training or playing organised Rugby League.
With providing assistance in mind, to anyone who suffers a severe functional disability – such a brain or spinal cord injury – the NRL has formed a partnership with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, where they work on the best strategies to help injured players and their families, following a catastrophic event.
The NRL and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia will also jointly fund research initiatives aimed at assisting injured footballers.
“This package aims to provide support at all levels,” said Smith, “from insurance through to on-going help, research and counselling.”