The NRL will alter the planned rules for Saturday’s World Club Challenge due to the forecast hot temperatures in Penrith.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a top temperature of 37 degrees in Penrith on Saturday. The Panthers and St Helens are due to do battle at BlueBet Stadium from 6pm.
Concerns were raised after similar temperatures in Penrith for Saturday’s trial against the Eels saw a lower grade match official hospitalised for heat stroke.
The World Club Challenge is usually played under regular NRL competition rules, but the weather will force the match to be played in quarters with additional drinks breaks.
In addition, 18 players will be allowed to be used for each team and interchanges will be increased from eight to 10.
Rules around trainers carrying water will also be relaxed.
There is no suggestion the game will be moved but the NRL is understandably being asked why it was scheduled in a 6pm timeslot in the middle of February in one of the hottest parts of Sydney.
The later game, at 8.10pm, is between Brisbane and North Queensland on the Sunshine Coast, where a top temperature of 30 degrees is forecast on Saturday.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.