Trackers promise boosted insights
Player tracking will revolutionise the way rugby league fans experience the 2017 Holden State of Origin series.
Every player involved in the State of Origin series will be wearing special RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification Device) which will allow host broadcaster Channel Nine to enhance the statistical component of its coverage via what will be the Telstra Tracker.
The devices will also importantly allow advances to be made from a player welfare perspective.
Following a two-year development process, the new technology will be seen for the first time in Game I of the series, on Wednesday, May 31, at Suncorp Stadium.
NRL Head of Strategy David Silverton said the NRL had been working on the initiative with partners Catapult for two years.
"This is a very exciting initiative for the game which will have significant benefits not only for our fans but for players as well," Mr Silverton said.
"With this advanced technology, viewers will be able to access new insights into how the game is played and it will no doubt further highlight the unbelievable athletic qualities of the best of the best in rugby league.
“We have been working on this for some time and also thank the NSWRL, QRL and the players for supporting this initiative.
"These devices are smaller, faster and more accurate than they have ever been in rugby league. They will measure more than just how far a player runs - viewers will now be given heat maps, top speeds, stop starts, and other insights."
NRL General Manager of Innovation Luke Gooden added: "This will take the fans closer to the game than ever before, and help them understand it in a different way. Many people have been involved to bring this to life including Channel Nine, Telstra, both NSWRL and QRL and the RLPA."
The technology is even more accurate than GPS as it relies on 20 beacons that are placed around the venues. The data is accurate to within 15cm.
Executive Producer of Nine NRL Ben Clark said: "The data we'll display will take the audience deeper into the inner sanctum of what's available to players and coaches during a match and give everyone watching a greater understanding of what it takes to play rugby league at the ultimate level."
Mr Gooden added the technology would allow the coaching and medical staff to track more accurately the player workloads during games.
"It's significant for us to be in a position to understand what the athletes go through in a more detailed way," Mr Gooden said.
"We can now measure a lot more, and that will help us improve player welfare further into the future."
Jeremy Nicholas, Executive Director Telstra Retail Marketing said: "Our true passion is combining technology with sport to create brilliant experiences that brings fans closer to the game. We're delighted to support our long-time partner NRL with the Telstra Tracker - a great innovation for footy fans."