Manly Seagulls demand explanation on 2016 NRL draw

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have demanded an explanation and a meeting with the NRL over the 2016 premiership draw which the Club is adamant puts its players wellness and safety in severe jeopardy.

The Sea Eagles consider four five day turnarounds in the opening nine rounds of the premiership to be dangerous and unacceptable.

Of particular concern is three matches in 10 days in Rounds three, four and five against last season semi finalists Cronulla Sharks (Monday), Sydney Roosters (Saturday) and South Sydney (Thursday).

CEO Joe Kelly has today written to NRL Head of Football, Todd Greenberg, requesting a meeting and outlining the Club’s grievances with its draw, including the player related issues.

“At the moment we are concerned with an adverse reaction to the draw from our Members and we are fully supportive of the view they are expressing,’’ Kelly said.

“I can assure them we will be taking up those issues when management gets an opportunity to meet with the NRL face to face.”

Head Coach Trent Barrett has asked Greenberg for an explanation and says he is deeply concerned for his players. He has been supported by his highly qualified medical and fitness staff.

"This Club and its players and supporters thrive on adversity but the game is tough enough without having serious player welfare issues put in front of us by the NRL draw,’’ Barrett said.

"Four five day turnarounds in the first nine rounds of the competition is unfair and dangerous according to our medical and health and safety advice. It is unfair to ask our players to undertake such a workload.

“Some Clubs have extra hurdles placed in front of them and other Clubs have none.

"This has to be addressed now - not after a player is seriously affected by the unrealistic workload placed upon them by virtue of a draw which smacks of dramatic inconsistency."

Sea Eagles Chief Medical Officer, Dr Luke Inman (Doctor, Sports and Exercise Medicine) also expressed his concern.

"It is difficult to quantify the risk of injury with shortened recovery time but we do know that muscle damage is cumulative,’’ Dr Inman said.

“If there is inadequate recovery, which is possible for some players with this turnaround, then the additive loads will further increase the muscle damage, and cumulatively.

“What we can say is that with heavy loads and inadequate recovery there is an increase in injury risk, independent of the muscle damage scores the injury risk is increased up to 3-4 weeks following the period of increased exertion."

Dr Inman, who formerly worked with the Sydney Swans, is writing a paper on the creative kinase (muscle damage marker) on Swans players following data received from every game over the past three seasons.

He is also concerned clubs most affected by the five day back up will have key players missing in the period because of concussion issues.

“They will have next to no time to recover and pass the necessary test required. The time frame for the short turn around simply won’t allow it,’’ he added.

Dan Ferris, Head of Physical Performance, Manly Sea Eagles, said the situation needs to be addressed immediately.

"Scientific journal articles on player load and recovery show how much a negative response on the body has for a period of 3-4 days post game,’’ Ferris said.

"Muscle damage on the body is still at its peak 3-4 days post game and takes a full 5-6 days to return to homeostasis"

"I believe three games in a 10 day period against any NRL opposition has zero player welfare attached to it.

“If the NRL are serious about their concerns for player burnout, this type of demand doesn't show it.

"It should also be noted teams will play with two less replacements in 2016 which will further increase game demand load automatically for some players compared to last season.''

 RLPA General President, Clint Newton, says he shares Manly’s concerns about the draw and the implications for player welfare.

"Manly's 2016 schedule highlights the issues we have raised regarding five day breaks and the cumulative impact this will have on the players from a performance perspective, together with their health and wellbeing throughout the season,” said Newton.

"Added to that is the number of Thursday and Monday night fixtures that present serious commercial limitations for the Club with a possible further impact on the funding available to support our players."
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