No cap dispensation if Knights stand down Ponga
Newcastle won't be able to access salary cap dispensation if they stand down Kalyn Ponga, but the NRL are open to introducing assistance for clubs with concussed players from next season.
The Knights are continuing to weigh up how to best treat Ponga's fourth concussion in 10 months, with the five-eighth out of Sunday's clash with Canterbury.
The 24-year-old missed the end of last season as he attempted to recover from a series of head knocks, leaving Newcastle without their best player for the final six rounds.
The NRL currently offer dispensation for clubs who lose players to injuries in representative matches, as well as while players are stood down under the no-fault policy.
No such dispensations are available for long-term concussions.
It means if Newcastle are to stand Ponga down for an extended period to aid his recovery, they will leave $1.4 million of their salary cap on the sidelines.
"The salary cap auditor has provisions within his remit to look at career-ending injuries, and also can look at long-term injuries as well," NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
"Any type of dispensation would need to be handled case-by-case by the salary cap auditor within the rules.
"But if there is an opportunity for us to modernise our rules based on what we are seeing in the game or based on what we would like to see in the game.
"There is the avenue to explore that.
"But that is something that would be done post-season and not during the season."
Ponga's situation comes as the NRL weigh up whether to introduce a mandatory 11-day stand-down period for players after a concussion diagnosis, with no exemptions given to return early.
The ARL Commission is expected to meet this week on the topic, as they study world trends and technologies on concussions.
The likes of James Graham, who was vocal in his desire to play through concussions throughout his NRL career, is among those backing the call for mandatory stand downs if recommended by doctors.
"My advice would be to be guided by the medical professionals," Graham told reporters at the NRL's multicultural round launch.
"The powerbrokers - people like Andrew Abdo and Peter V'Landys - they're fully aware of what's at stake here.
"It's difficult, and I don't envy their position where they'll likely be judged on this in years to come.
"From what I've witnessed so far is they do have the athletes' long-term health needs when it comes to degenerative brain issues."
Graham has long stated players must be protected from themselves.
"This isn't an opinion piece, this should be based on factual information and understanding professional athletes are willing to sacrifice their future for the present," he said.
"Perhaps they need to be protected from themselves. That likely needs to be considered when it comes to this.
"Sometimes the very group you're trying to protect are against it. That's young people wanting to do what young people do."