Senior NRL star Josh Morris has warned that increasing the speed of rugby league further could lead to an inferior product, after a spate of serious injuries across the weekend.
Morris and fellow Sydney Roosters star James Tedesco on Monday backed calls to introduce an 18th man for concussion or injury, with more than 20 players recovering from injuries suffered in round three games.
Rule changes enforced this season to speed up the game have been speculated as the cause for the mass injury toll.
While Morris said the game is noticeably quicker he said the line hasn’t been crossed – yet.
“Throughout stages, yes definitely (I’ve noticed the game is quicker),” he said.
“There’s still opportunity to get rest here and there but it feels quicker.
“Once it becomes like touch football then it will be too fast, but I don’t think it’s at that stage yet.
“But there’s a fine line and once we go over it then the product will get diluted.”
The Australian Rugby League Commission on Tuesday will meet and on the agenda is the introduction of a medical substitution.
The topic has been mentioned in NRL circles since the AFL introduced an extra substitution just days before the start of their season.
However, calls grew louder after Cronulla finished their loss to Parramatta with no players left on the bench for the entire second half, just hours after Canberra finished their defeat to the Warriors with just one fit interchange available.
Seven players suffered concussions on Friday and Saturday alone, well up on the average of 3.6 per round across the past two seasons.
In addition to the head injuries, Luke Keary, Lachlan Lam, Ben Hunt, Dylan Edwards, Jarrod Croker, Joe Tapine and Jeremy Marshall-King suffered injuries across the weekend.
The Bulldogs on Monday confirmed a broken foot for Marshall-King, who will miss six to eight weeks.
“We haven’t really seen a situation like the weekend just gone, whether they look at having a medical sub or bringing the interchange back up,” Morris said.
“I guess you’re seeing with the rule changes the fatigue coming into it and a lot more players with their timing, a lot more concussions and HIAs.”
Australia and NSW fullback Tedesco also backed the move for an 18th man for concussion or injuries but said he personally hasn’t felt the game has been quicker across the first three rounds.
In the first two weeks the Roosters scored 86 points, which led to plenty of stoppages, while they were ravaged with injuries in their 26-16 loss to South Sydney on Friday night.
“It’s hard to know if it would work but I’m open to it,” Tedesco said.
“I don’t know if the quicker game and less stoppages is creating more injuries, it’s hard to tell.
“Our games haven’t been that fast, there’s been a lot of stop and start and a few tries to it, but I haven’t seen much difference in the way it’s been played it’s been pretty smooth.”