A panel of medical experts will replace the NRL’s outgoing chief medical officer in a restructure designed to give clubs access to more specialist physicians.

Dr Paul Bloomfield will return to private practice after six years in the top job that focused on the advancement of injury surveillance and concussion protocols from the elite to grassroots level.

He’ll depart with the issue heavily in the spotlight, particularly after cricket and more recently the AFL introduced concussion and injury substitutes rule respectively.

The advisory panel, which will be headed by a medical operations manager, will be expanded to include specialist doctors in sports medicine, occupational health, neurology and other disciplines as required.

“Paul has worked in professional rugby league for almost 30 years, the past six of those as NRL Chief Medical Officer during a period of enormous change,” NRL football boss Graham Annesley said.

“His contribution to the game and the safety of our players has been outstanding and will have an enduring impact well into the future

“Our expanded Medical Advisory Panel will provide us with access to additional medical expertise from a broader range of specialists to ensure we have immediate access to the best possible advice regardless of any medical issues that confront the game.”

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