NRL implement major changes to weekly team list announcements
DAVID RICCIO, EXCLUSIVE, The Daily Telegraph
February 18, 2017 8:54pm
THE NRL have implemented a major crackdown on how coaches announce their team lists each week in bid to reduce the risk of inside information being traded for gambling.
In a timely and unprecedented development, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal all 16 clubs were informed on Saturday of the NRL’s team list overhaul and new rules which states that for the first time, they must name a 21-man squad every Tuesday of the upcoming 2017 season.
The significant revamp emerged as the NRL deals with the latest round of betting allegations laid against Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona and ahead of soon-to-be ratified new rules involving players being banned from all mobile phone use in dressing rooms.
Informed of the team-list changes on Saturday, coaches were told that unlike previous seasons, they will no longer be allowed to use any player who isn’t named within the original 21-man squad, unless a special exemption is granted by the NRL.
The 21-man squad will consist of 17 players named in position, as well as up to four interchange reserves.
Coaches will be permitted to cut their squad back to 19 players 24-hours prior to kick-off, with the final 17-man squad announced one hour before kick-off.
In any other cases where clubs wanted to include a player at late notice they would have to apply to the NRL for a special exemption and outline their case.
This may include bringing in a player from outside the squad if someone in a specialist position such as halfback was injured at training and there was no logical replacement among the reserves.
The NRL hopes the changes will limit the common practice of coaches naming ‘bogus’ teams, including the deliberate ploy of not naming a star player ahead of their comeback from injury or so too, the debut of a rising star.
But overwhelmingly, the NRL’s motivation to limit the opportunity for people both in and outside the game profiting from inside information, is the cause for change.
“The late inclusion of a star player can dramatically affect a team’s chances and market odds of that team,” NRL Integrity Unit boss Nick Weeks said.
“We don’t see this as a major problem in the game at present but we want to reduce the likelihood betting stings based on inside information.”
The team-list shake-up will also draw much interest from fans as well as SuperCoach and Fantasy football players, who are impacted by wholesale team changes shortly before kick-off.
“That is something that frustrates fans and the new system should go a long way to eliminating the practice,” NRL head of football Brian Canavan said.
“There is enormous interests in team lists … Tuesday is easily the busiest day on the nrl.com website because fans want to know who is in and out of their team.”
Canavan added that an exemption did exist within team-list overhaul for clubs to name additional players in their Tuesday squad announcement in circumstances where three or more of their players are selected in a State of Origin match.