SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: James Fisher-Harris of the Panthers leaves the field with a possible concussion during the round 11 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium on May 23, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Australian Rugby League Commission have confirmed the introduction of an 18th player to team lineups that would be allowed to enter the game should a side have three players fail a HIA or a player is unable to return to the field due to injury conceded from foul play.

The new rule will come into effect in Round 5, beginning with this Thursday's match between South Sydney and Brisbane.

The 18th player will be named on the day of the game when final team sheets are finalised and will be part of the initial 21-man side that is named for the respective match.

ARL boss Peter V'landys echoed the league's movement in improving player safety and support.

"Player wellbeing is a priority for the Commission and this additional safety net ensures players continue to be protected," V'landys said, per

"Our clubs are outstanding in the way they detect and monitor head injuries and the activation of an 18th player in rare cases of three failed HIAs during a game will ensure continued strict compliance throughout a match.

"We’ve also approved an 18th player to be activated when a player suffers a match ending injury because of foul play where the perpetrator is sin binned or sent off.

"Why should a team be disadvantaged by an act of serious foul play? This was a strong message from all clubs and fans and the Commission has listened to that feedback.

"We’ve also listened to clubs and players about the criteria of the 18th player used and will allow the club to select any of its registered players which will enable the most effective team combination on game day. I want to thank all clubs and the RLPA for their feedback."