AAP Rugby

NRL insist they don’t need ‘Leilua law’

By AAP Newswire

The NRL insist there's no need for a rule that would have allowed Canberra's Joey Leilua back onto the field with a free interchange following the fireworks mishap.

Leilua was unable to start Saturday's qualifying final against Melbourne after a fragment of a fireworks case was lodged in his eyes.

While the Raiders were able to replace him without an interchange, it would have cost them one on had Nick Cotric not later left the field for a HIA.

Alternatively, NRL rules would have allowed him to be pulled from the match entirely as is the case with any player who is injured in warm-up.

And while the chances of another incident are remote, the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley denied the need for a free returning interchange for any player injured through no fault of them or the club.

"There is no provision under the rules ... for a free interchange to make good the starting line up," Annesley said.

"The teams are announced an hour before the game and there is a provision for (a change) if players get sick or the injury in a warm up.

"The provision covers for the freak accident. I would call twisting your ankle on the way down the tunnel a freak accident as well.

"You can't have a rule that covers some circumstances differently to others."

Annesley also pointed out any other rules would mean the NRL would have to be careful of coaches attempting to misuse them.

He also said Canberra had the option to start the match with 12 players before returning Leilua to the field, which would have avoided the need for an interchange.

Investigations are continuing into the incident, and at this stage it remains unlikely the arch players run through will be lit up again in the finals series.

Instead, players are likely to run through mist as they come through the arch and out of the tunnel, as was the case in Sunday's Parramatta-Brisbane clash.

It comes as a flame thrower lit the turf on fire in a Tennessee Titans NFL game on the weekend.

"Our events team have made some adjustments to make sure this doesn't happen again, but it was nothing more than a freak accident," Annesley said.

"It's not my area (of expertise), but it's my understanding (the fireworks won't be repeated).

"We've got people in place who look at risk analysis before every game, and they're still investigating exactly what happened."