Castleford Tigers' Cheyse Blair says speed of rugby league needs looking at as concussion risk mounts

Castleford Tigers forward Cheyse Blair reckons rugby league authorities need to strike a balance between making the game faster and protecting players’ health.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:00 am

New rules, some in response to the coronavirus pandemic, mean the ball is in play longer than in previous seasons, with set restarts having replaced penalties for some offences and scrums being abolished.

Blair, an Australian who joined Tigers from Melbourne Storm ahead of the 2019 season, feels an increased risk of injuries from a faster game is something the law-makers need to take into account.

“We didn’t have scrums last year after Covid, but I think they are still trying to speed the game up,” Blair - who is now established in the second-row after joining Tigers as a centre - said.

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Cheyse Blair on the attack for Tigers in this month's Cup win at Hull KR. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“There’s a lot more six-agains, there’s rarely any penalties - it is only a penalty for offsides now, everything’s just six-agains.

“The game is speeding up and over in the NRL they are getting a lot of concussions which is something we don’t want here.

“People over there are starting to retire earlier than they wanted so it is probably something the game needs to look into further down the line.”

Tigers are likely to be involved in another breathless encounter when they visit Wigan Warriors today.

It could be unbeaten Castleford’s biggest challenge so far and Blair said: “We are going really well, but they will be saying the exact same thing - they have won four on the bounce as well.

“They have got some key individuals who are playing outstanding footy and [Bevan] French will be back this week, so it will be one of our toughest tests, but all the boys are up for it and we can’t wait.”

Blair reckons Tigers’ start has been similar to last year, but stressed they need to maintain their early pace this time.

Castleford were second in the table when coronavirus brought Super League to a halt 13 months ago, but the wheels came off after the resumption and they finished eighth.

“We’ve come off a good pre-season and everybody’s playing high-quality footy, but we know everyone can always get better,” Blair stressed.

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