NRL Player Insurance Under The Spotlight

Both Faifax and News Limited are carrying interesting stories regarding the NRL’s insurance plan for players who suffer catastrophic, career ending injuries.

Brad Walter of the Sydney Morning Herald writes that the RLPA is considering signing off on coverage that would cost the game $1 million per year but that would not cover players whose careers are ended because of a preexisting injury.

That would mean a player such a Brent Tate would not receive a payout if a knee injury ended his career. Players would only be covered for new injuries that ended their career.

To me $1 million per year to cover every player in the NRL seems like a very reasonable figure. I can understand why it wouldn’t cover preexisting injuries, but I can understand why players are not too happy about that as well.

My guess is that everyone involved is trying to avoid a situation where a player may see an insurance payout on a preexisting injury as a way to cash out of the game and blame an injury for their retirement when they planned on retiring anyway.

News Limited meanwhile has compared the payout figure Alex McKinnon will receive for his injury and matched it up against what he would receive if he played other sports in Australia.

It is not a nice thing to read but it does show how Rugby League is behind other sports in terms of it’s insurance coverage for career ending injuries.

The good news is that this issue is finally being discussed. It may be in terrible circumstances, but it is a chance for the game to make sure that any player in the future that has their career ended because of injury never has to worry about their financial situation.

We saw on the weekend that the game will come out and do what it can for players that face major injuries that end their careers. Some players have slipped through the cracks though, and we need to think about those players too.

This is a really important issue and the RLPA can not afford to get this wrong. It’s members need full coverage.

It is also great to hear that the NRL is hoping to move towards a scheme that covers everyone that plays the game, from the grassroots right through to the NRL.

For $1 million a year, it seems worth it. Players should be looked after for what they put themselves through. No player who suffers a career ending injury should be forced to worry about their financial standing heading into the next phase of their life.

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