NRL interchange cut not in the pipeline

STEVE JANCETIC
Last updated 16:02 22/11/2012

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NRL coaches might have to wait until 2015 to get their wish for a reduction in interchanges, with the ARL Commission (ARLC) admitting it is in no rush to alter the way the bench is used.

Several coaches have called for substitutions to be cut from 10 to eight or less - claiming it would have a multitude of benefits for the game, including enhancing player safety.

But with the rules committee to meet in early December, ARLC director of football operations Nathan McGuirk said a reduction in interchanges was not in the pipeline.

"It won't be for next year," McGuirk told AAP.

"It's something we have to give clubs at least 12 months advanced notice of, mainly due to the impact it would have on recruitment."

"It's something that we wouldn't rush into making a decision on. We would look at the implications of making such a serious change to the way the game would be played."

Given the research the ARLC would need to undertake, no change would be likely before December 2013, which means the earliest it could come into effect would be the 2015 season.

Coaches argue that less substitutions would have key benefits including creating greater fatigue and, in turn, minimising the impact of collisions - one of the key pillars on which this week's decision to ban the shoulder charge was based.

Fewer interchanges would also increase the impact and value of smaller players in the game at a time when contests increasingly involve hulking forwards powering up the middle and slowing down the ruck.

St George Illawarra coach Steve Price added his voice to calls from his peers for less substitutions.

"People talk about player safety and players are four kilos heavier over the last 10 years, players are taller - I believe in reducing the interchange," Price said.

"It gives an opportunity for younger players to come into the game, it's going to evolve more space into the game, it's going to reduce the injury rate, it's going to eliminate numbers in the tackle."

Asked what the magic number should be, Price said: "If you're going to reduce the interchange, you start it at eight and go from there."

Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart went even further earlier this year.

"The quicker we cut it down to six (interchanges), the sooner you'll see a better game of football in regards to the little man, who everybody pays their money to come and watch play."

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