NRL introduces a two-doctor rule for 2019

Aaron Bunch

The NRL is looking to further strengthen head injury rules by introducing a second doctor during matches, as well as exploring the possibility of using spotters in the crowd.

However, it won't make public any breaches made by clubs taking advantage of the concussion rule unless it's deemed in the public interest.

NRL's chief medical officer, Dr Paul Bloomfield, says clubs next season will be required to have two doctors at the ground.

"The clubs next year will have an assistant doctor, so two doctors per club," he said.

The second doctor will be valuable assessing head knocks, which can be complex, he said

It will also ensure a physician remains on the sideline if the other doctor is treating a player in the clubrooms.

The rule changes are designed to further protect players following last season's round three crackdowns on head injury rule breaches, which resulted in fines for Gold Coast, Newcastle and St George Illwarra.

The NRL last month asked the Sydney Roosters to explain their use of a free interchange after Boyd Cordner returned to the field following a head injury assessment, according to the ABC.

The NRL has also quizzed Cronulla about its lack of action when Josh Dugan appeared to receive a bad head knock during their round two clash with St George Illawarra.

Despite the increased number of medical staff at games, Dr Bloomfield said head injury management had progressed across the code.

"Attitudes towards that are definitely improving and I think clubs as a whole are being more conservative with their management in game of concussions and it's reflected in our reviews of concussions and discussions with club doctors," he said.

However, the NRL won't make all breaches of its head injury rules public.

"We will always treat concussion-related matters on a case-by-case basis, as we would any other issues arising out of the NRL rules," an NRL spokesperson said.

"Some will be in the public interest to disclose, while others will be dealt with privately with clubs."