Hull KR exclusive: Willie Peters backs law changes surrounding concussion – ‘We’ve got to adapt and change’

John Davidson
Hull KR coach Willie Peters Alamy

Hull KR head coach Willie Peters - Alamy

Hull KR head coach Willie Peters has thrown his support behind the RFL’s new laws and operational rules on concussion, stating that they are changes rugby league needed to make. 

Earlier this month the governing body announced several measures aiming at reducing concussions, including reduced the tackle height to the armpit, maximum minute limits for players over a season, mandatory off-season periods and having independent concussion spotters at matches. 

Rugby league has followed the lead of other sports, including rugby union, in trying to bring down the rate of brain injuries and make the sport safer for its participants. 

Peters believes the new changes will help minimise the amount of overall concussions players are suffering. 

“The welfare of players is most important,” the Australian told Love Rugby League 

“They’re getting more educated now around where concussions are going and the causes of concussions now – I don’t think we’re 100 per cent there yet, there’s no doubt that… But it’s certainly going to help minimise it.  

“We need to see the 2025 ones that they’re going to bring in at lower-level grades and see how that goes. But we’ve just got to adapt and change.  

“Any change at the start can be difficult in terms of you’ve done something the same way for a long time, but as coaches we just need to work on it at training so the players coming through that becomes the habit, that becomes the norm.  

“Where at the moment there’s always been to tackle a certain way or do things a certain way. The play the ball, I know it’s not to do with concussion, but the game has always been about playing the ball with your foot.  

“We went away from that, and it should never have happened. So players now are lazy in how they play the ball.  

“They need to practice that in training in how they play the ball. I’m all for the changes, just as coaches at the start we need to work on it at training. 

“With all the concussion changes, the game needs to do that. There’s no doubt about that. 

“We just need to make sure we don’t alter the product too much as well.” 

Hull KR boss Willie Peters backs changes to reduce head knocks: ‘What we need to do is keep minimising them without hindering the product’

Peters, who is preparing for his second season in charge of the Robins, had an eight-year career as a professional in the NRL and in Super League from 1997 to 2004. 

The former half-back played more than 140 games for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Gateshead Thunder, Wigan Warriors, St George Illawarra Dragons and Widnes Vikings. 

As a smaller playmaker standing at just 1.66 metres tall and weighing in at 75 kilograms, the 44-year-old suffered his fair share of head knocks. 

Peters admits the knowledge around brain trauma and the impact of concussion later in life is significantly greater now than what it was during his playing days. 

“Where life and society is at now, everything has evolved,” he said.  

“There’s more information around concussion now. Once you get that information you need to make change and that’s what they’re doing.  

“I’m all for it, we just need to make sure we don’t hinder our product as there’s no doubt, I believe, (it’s) the best game in the world and the most entertaining.  

“So we can’t hinder that too much because you’ve got touch football and tag for those who don’t want to play rugby league for the physicality.  

“But certainly it needs to be played in a fashion that’s minimising concussions.  

“You’re never going to not have concussions or head knocks in a contact sport, but what we need to do is keep minimising them without hindering the product.” 

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