Down: First-aid men Ray Ferrett and Ron Miller assist injured Coffs Comet reserve Blaize Parter in the grand final loss to the Sharks.
Down: First-aid men Ray Ferrett and Ron Miller assist injured Coffs Comet reserve Blaize Parter in the grand final loss to the Sharks. Trevor Veale

Group 2’s injury rates the highest

WHEN VB Gold Group 2 club coaches complained during the 2010 season their prospects were being crippled by above-average injury rates, they weren’t joking.

Figures made available at Country Rugby League’s annual conference show the rate of claims this season by senior players in the local domestic competition more than doubled those made anywhere else in New South Wales, including the major league centres of Illawarra, Central Coast and Newcastle.

With claims approaching 100 per 1000 players, the figures dwarf the next highest claim zone of Group 7 on the South Coast where claims nudging 40 per 1000 players were lodged.

In the junior ranks, the ACT led the way but Group 2 was in second berth, again far in excess of any other constituent association.

Managing director of CRL insurers SLE Worldwide Australia Pty Limited, Brad French, said the high number of claims had been looked at from several angles.

“We like to see if there’s been a lot of rain or if hot conditions left the grounds too hard,” he said.

“But it appears that this time, it’s just been a bad year as far as claims are concerned.

“Sometimes these spikes happen in a season and we haven’t identified any real problem.

“It’s just the nature of footy, I suppose.”

Closer scrutiny of the figures reveals claims for knee injuries were the most prevalent, followed by shoulder, lower leg, ankle and hand injuries.

These took up around 75 per cent of claims putting a dent in the theory rugby league players suffer predominantly from head injuries.

Above the shoulders, dental claims were the highest individually, taking up approximately five per cent.

Being tackled was the activity where most injuries occurred with sprains (or strains) – rather than fractures or dislocations – causing the most need for attention.

One of the clubs which suffered most during the recently completed season was Woolgoolga Seahorses.

After going into the competition as pre-post favourites, a string of misfortunes eventually prompted head coach Steve Gooley to do the maths as one calamity followed another.

“During the year the first grade team had 34 different players which is an astonishing figure,” he revealed.

“Reviewing team sheets I found no game where the same team took the field from the previous week.”

Hopes of Sawtell defending their titles may have taken a nose-dive when captain-coach Rohan Loudon suffered a season-ending shoulder injury but the real damage was done when the club spent week after week with between five and nine regular first graders in the casualty clearing station.

Other clubs most affected were Orara Valley Axemen and Macksville Sera Eagles who never seemed to get more than a couple of their match-winning backline on the paddock at any one time.

In contrast, eventual premiers Port Macquarie Sharks went their last seven matches straight with the same 17-man squad with coach Tony Pascoe’s only change being to shift boom second-rower Danny Graham between the bench and the run-on side.

President Jock Colley was returned unopposed at the CRL annual meeting. Group 2 president Greg Mayhew will play a management role after being returned for another term on the boundaries and competitions committee.

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