Unquestionably the 2020 NRL season is unlike any other in the code’s history.
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes the club’s rising injury toll is due to fatigue brought on by an NRL draw and rule changes.
Trent Robinson has never experienced a worse injury crisis, but knew getting the NRL season not only up and running – but completed – would carry certain risks.
Rule changes and an uninterrupted season was determined the best way through the pandemic for the NRL, which is a decision Robinson helped make on the Project Apollo committee.
And now, with more fatigue in the game through rule changes and a relentless draw, injuries have taken their toll.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy likened Thursday night’s match at the SCG to a M*A*S*H unit as five players suffered injuries.
Luke Keary, Mitch Aubusson and Lachlan Lam add to an already full casualty ward for Sydney Roosters, who are now without ten players who would be regularly picked in the starting 17.
“Without a doubt it is,” Robinson said when asked if it was the worst injury toll he had seen.
“We knew the risk of it all and we assumed the risk because that’s what we’re here to do, but I was a part of it.
“Not having byes and the rule changes obviously increased the intensity by about ten or 15 per cent in the game.
“There are consequences for that, a better game and more injuries at the moment.”
The 2020 NRL season was always going to be about survival of the fittest, but Bellamy doesn’t believe it should be this hard.
Storm lost Jahrome Hughes (groin) and winger Suliasi Vunivalu (broken jaw), who will join stars Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster on the sidelines.
And while Melbourne’s injury toll is not as bad as some, Bellamy said some of the rule changes need to be reconsidered for player safety at the end of the season.
“We decided we wanted some fatigue in the game but I’m not quite sure whether there’s too much fatigue at the moment with the amount of teams that have got a lot of injuries, and I mean a lot,” he said.
“You look at the Roosters’ list, and we’ve probably got two of our most influential players out.
“It’s not just about fatigue and soft tissue injuries, it’s about when people get fatigued they start putting their bodies in the wrong places to make tackles or absorb the contact and you get injured from there.
“It’s something we need to look at because it was like a M*A*S*H unit tonight, there was blokes getting hurt left, right and centre.”