Players’ union demands changes

The head of the Rugby League Players Association has admitted that reducing both the number of games and the stresses being put on players is high on the union’s agenda moving forward.

Former Great Britain prop Garreth Carvell believes that players are not being given adequate time during the off-season to ensure they are ready to play at their peak.

And he believes the recent injuries to Luke Gale and Kevin Brown were impacted by the tough schedule placed on players.

He hopes the union will have the power to implement change, telling League Express:

“I feel the players aren’t given enough time between the Grand Final and Round One to recover and build strength in order to prevent injury, especially if the players are selected for international duty.

“I have no doubt the recent injuries sustained to two prominent halfbacks last month have been influenced by the number of games these players have played over the years.

“Having fitter, stronger and better-prepared players will only improve our game, which is the main aim. This has been on the agenda for a long time. Hopefully, we can now have an influence and implement changes to improve the competition as a whole. Fewer games but higher quality will do that in my opinion.”

Carvell is also hoping to finalise the details of a recognition agreement with the RFL to ensure the union can be present at all high-profile meetings in the sport.

“That’s the immediate goal for us,” he said. “The agreement will allow me to attend all meetings that will affect the players to give their perspective and opinions.

“This includes meetings on rule changes, structure and medical standards, to name a few. There is still room for the RLPA to grow, so recruitment will always be a high priority.

“We will also be looking to recruit club representatives to enable players to forward their issues and opinions to a central point. I will meet regularly with those representatives to gather the information and relay that back to the RFL.”

Carvell, however, admits the union has a growing relationship with the RFL.

He said: “There have been some difficult times and some hard conversations, but at the end of the day we have the same goal and that is to improve our great game.

“Karen Moorhouse (RLF Head of Legal) has been excellent throughout the whole process and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her colleagues. We will not always see eye to eye, but that’s the nature of the beast. My job is to voice the opinions of the players, whatever they may be. The RFL understands and accepts that.”