Lloyd Perrett in action for the Sea Eagles.
Lloyd Perrett in action for the Sea Eagles.

Heat now on NRL over player safety

THE RLPA want the NRL and clubs to enforce a clear and consistent heat policy for training across all teams to combat extreme conditions and protect player welfare.

Set in stone heat rules currently only apply to matches and the RLPA would also like to enforce a minimum standard for training.

The Players' Association addressed the heat rule in recent CBA talks and General Manager of Player Relations Clint Newton said the RLPA want to discuss the issue further with the NRL and clubs.

"This area remains a priority for the RLPA and will be on the agenda at the next Workloads and Balance Committee meeting in the coming weeks," Newton said.

"The RLPA will continue discussions with the NRL and key stakeholders as part of the Workloads and Balance Committee to ensure that the existing heat policy is continually monitored, reviewed and leads the way across all sporting codes.


The RLPA want clear heat rules for the preseason, says Clint Newton. pic Mark Evans
The RLPA want clear heat rules for the preseason, says Clint Newton. pic Mark Evans


"It's important that any changes or additions to the policy are clearly communicated and have the welfare, health and safety of players at the forefront.

"We have already had a number of valuable conversations with Dr Paul Bloomfield at the NRL in relation to the heat policy that applies to games.

"We look forward to continuing those discussions with both Paul and other key stakeholders regarding any additional recommendations or guidelines that would extend beyond games."

A spokesman for the NRL said a new heat policy, implemented during the Rugby League World Cup, was gradually being introduced and the emphasis was on clubs to implement it.

The spokesman said the policy involved a scientifically approved "heat stress index" which measures temperature, humidity, wind speed and other factors which affect players training and playing.

The index was used successfully in the World Cup and would be used in the NRL this year.

The spokesman said NRL club doctors had also been sent guidelines on how to apply the heat stress index late last year so they could use the system during pre-season training.

"The new system is gradually being implemented by clubs," the spokesman said.

Discussion around the NRL's heat rule follows the tragic passing of former PNG Hunters centre Kato Ottio, who died from heatstroke after taking part in an eight-kilometre road run on a 33 degree day in Port Moresby last month.

Manly forward Lloyd Perrett has also collapsed twice at training this pre-season due to heat exhaustion.

Lloyd Perrett collapsed at training from heat exhaustion.
Lloyd Perrett collapsed at training from heat exhaustion.



Perrett lost consciousness before Christmas and again when the Sea Eagles returned to training in the new year.

Manly medical staff reacted quickly to ensure the forward's safety by placing him on an oxygen mask.

The Sea Eagles confirmed there were no fears for Perrett's long-term future and he has been cleared to return to training.

But with summer temperatures set to rise in the coming weeks as NRL clubs ramp up their preparations, the RLPA told The Daily Telegraph they want to set firm heat rule guidelines for training that match world standards.

At present, NRL clubs use a commonsense approach to training in the heat.

For example, the Panthers only have one training session a week that isn't an early morning start to avoid the region's hot temperatures.

Penrith reached a record high of 47.3 degrees on January 7, which made the area the hottest place on the planet at that time.

Like the NRL, the A-League also uses a commonsense approach when it comes to training in the heat.

Player welfare for A-League games is governed by the "Wet Bulb Globe Temperature" (WBGT), a globally agreed model that uses data from air temperature, humidity, wind and radiation.


Kato Ottio passed away from heatstroke. Picture: Brett Costello
Kato Ottio passed away from heatstroke. Picture: Brett Costello


Football Federation Australia has a deal with a global company called UBIMET, which alerts A-League bosses to potential issues around games some time ahead. Under the protocol agreed with the players' association, as the WBGT rises, team doctors can instigate drinks breaks during games, kick off delays and ultimately postponements.

Rugby union follow the World Rugby Heat Guideline, which is set on the Belding Hatch Stress Index (BHSI) for competition games.

BHSI is calculated by dividing the Evaporative requirement of the player by the Maximum Evaporative capacity of the environment x 100.

A figure of 100 represents an equilibrium between heat loss and heat gain.

In 2001 the NRL adopted these guidelines based on the Heat Stress Index measured using a Whirling Hygrometer to assess environmental conditions.

The AFL has a heat policy for matches but leaves training up to the discretion of individual clubs.

Over the last few weeks the Sydney Swans have switched their training sessions from 10am starts to the cooler start time of 8am.

The GWS Giants do the same when required but it appears their AFLW team pushed through the 30 degrees plus in Saturday morning's practice match against the Brisbane Lions.

The AFLW season kicks off in two weeks' time and Coach Alan McConnell said his team needs to play in all conditions.

The heat certainly didn't seem to affect the GWS girls as they beat last year's grand finalists by 50 points.