NRL President on the injuries sustained on-field: “struggling with numbers is what makes it hard”

Injured rugby league player during 9s tournament 2021 | BCN Archives

Rugby League, a full-contact sport, has been progressively growing in interest across the island for the boys and men. What has also been growing is the number of injuries the players sustain during their games. 

In early September, the Niue Rugby League hosted its first 9s tournament for this year between the villages of the island who had entered. 

Two weeks ago, they also hosted its first out of a series of three games between Motu and Tafiti. 

BCN News understands that there has been a serious amount of injuries that some of the players have sustained during these games.

A concern which has also impacted their daily lives such as being unable to work or go to school, recovering at home for a long period of time or traveling overseas to get further health assistance.

Niue Rugby League President Zack Smith

BCN News spoke with Niue Rugby League President Zack Smith on Tuesday this week who shared his point of view on the matter. 

“It’s pretty unfortunate we’ve had a couple of major injuries during our games. Injuries, there will always be injuries in this sport. We hope for less major injuries and just have minimal injuries.”

In efforts and hopes for minimal major injuries during their games, Zack says that an important part to achieve this effort is through proper conditioning of the body. He says this can be achieved through regular training and from learning the techniques taught during the training sessions. 

“During our training we try to work on fitness because fitness helps with it and also with the technique.”

“If you haven’t played contact sports all your life and then you just come into it now, obviously your body hasn’t been conditioned for that type of contact,” says Zack. 

One of the issues he raises is the population which we don’t have on the island, says Zack.

The unfortunate downfall is not having enough numbers hence why the games have included all age groups including those who are still in high school and those who are much older and advanced for the sport. 

“Struggling with numbers is what makes it hard which is why we need the young ones. At the same time we try to tell the older guys to take it easy on the young ones as well and some of them have been.”

Zack told BCN News that they encourage the younger generation to play but at their own risk and choice to do so. 

“With the young ones, it’s tough because of the numbers we have in Niue. We do tell them it’s really up to them. When it comes to games where it’s mixed with open grade, we give them the option that it’s up to them. But a lot of them really want to play.”

Zack says that the committee is working to have a sports program for the younger generation still in school as a way to deter the number of fatalities on-field by allowing them to play within their own age group. 

The second game between Motu vs Tafiti will take place this coming Saturday at the Paliati Niue High School grounds at 3:30pm in the afternoon.

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