Castleford coach Lee Radford has come up with an idea to keep as many players on the field as possible to help clubs deal with mounting injury lists.
There is an injury crisis across Super League at the moment, with the likes of Leeds, Salford, Castleford, Hull KR and Catalans being forced to field decimated squads in recent weeks.
Radford has revealed that Castleford might not even have 17 players fit and available to face Catalans on Friday night.
And there has been an increasing number of suspensions this season. Radford believes there would be less suspensions if the Rugby Football League started fining players rather than banning them, unless it was a really serious incident. His thought process behind that was so clubs could field their strongest possible side, despite the ever-growing amount of injuries.
“I don’t think we want to take away the brutality of the sport,” Radford said. “That’s what puts bums on seats. That’s what young kids with plenty of aggression want to get out of their system when they pick up a rugby ball.
“There’s been that many changes to the HIA for example, that’s 11 days now which is almost two games, so you’re almost missing two games now rather than one. That has a knock on effect of your selection and how many players you’ve got available to you.
“There’s another eight suspensions (in Super League) this week… Fine them but keep them on the field. I promise you if you start hitting players in their pockets, they will start making adjustments to their game.
“Rather than taking eight of your best players out of the firing line for this weekend, unless it’s a really bad incident and it is just a head high or a clumsy arm, just fine them £500 and they’ll make adjustments, I promise you.”
Why is there an injury crisis in Super League? Lee Radford explains
There seems to be more injuries than ever before in Super League right now, and Radford believes that is down to the speed of today’s game.
“I think the rule changes have introduced more time in play,” Radford explained. “Like your stop clock on a scrum and a drop-out. It gets the ball in play quicker and gives you less rest.
“Likewise with the six-again. There’s no kick for touch anymore and 30 seconds to get your breath back. Your argument against that is players might have been getting too big and causing injuries. If they are getting fatigued then you won’t be able to keep their strength as high as that but clearly it is going the other way.
“I’ve never seen a season like it. I’ve seen clubs have bad injury scenarios during a season, but I’ve never seen so many.
“When you’ve got clubs that can’t name squads of 21 there has got to be some red flags there. If you watch Saints in Round One against Catalans and look at the intensity of that game and the ball in play and the ferociousness of that weekend; and then you look at the St Helens that played us on Sunday, they look like chalk and cheese. It was a Channel 4 game on Sunday and we’re trying to sell our product. It was very much a diluted version of what it is.”
Castleford have five games of the season remaining as the race for a spot in the Super League play-offs heats up. The Tigers face Catalans, Huddersfield, Warrington, Salford and Leeds in their remaining games of the regular campaign.