Raiders doctor Wilson Lo.

Raiders doctor Wilson Lo. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra Raiders doctor Wilson Lo would fully support the NRL if it pushes ahead with plans to appoint independent doctors at games to assess players for concussion.

And he would also back a total ban on sleeping tablets, adamant players risk addiction and withdrawal symptoms if they're used regularly.

New concussion guidelines are poised to be introduced this year after NRL officials and club bosses met in Auckland last week, and a draft of the rules has been distributed to each club's medical staff.

Independent doctors and the NRL taking over responsibility for testing players for prescription drugs were among the main topics, which Lo described as ''a positive move''.

A number of club doctors quit their posts last year, with Lo declaring in October some felt sidelined as some clubs put success ahead of player welfare.

The doctors held a meeting on grand final day to discuss concerns they were being viewed as a necessary evil, but Lo stressed it wasn't the case at the Raiders.

''What we have been told is they're going to introduce a sideline concussion assessment, where you can bring a player off the field for up to 15 minutes, and during that time you get a free interchange,'' Lo said.

''The first five minutes the players have to rest and the doctor looks at a replay if there is one, then 10 minutes assessing.

''We have to do a proper assessment, document it and present it to the NRL the next business day.

''You could find loopholes and abuse it from a coaching point of view, but it's better than the other way around when you're leaving a [concussed] player out there.''

Lo said independent doctors would remove the stigma that some coaches are leaving concussed players out on the field to win games, and ignoring the wishes of some doctors.

''They didn't mention it in the draft rules, but it would be something which would be better,'' Lo said.

''It was brought up at the doctors' meeting last year and I can't speak for everyone, but it seemed the consensus was if they want to do that, go ahead and do it.

''The best thing is to have an independent doctor which moves around like the referees do, that way they have no allegiance to any team.''

Lo said the NRL risked a similar litigation to the American NFL, which agreed to a $765 million settlement with ex-players in January, if it didn't act.

''It might not happen now but it could happen in 15 to 20 years, it could be a big problem for the NRL unless they take it seriously,'' Lo said. ''It's a good step forward.''

Lo said the NRL has indicated it will consider allowing doctors to enter the field of play at any stage from next year.

The NRL has indicated it may eventually follow the lead of the Australian Olympic Committee and ban players from taking sleeping tablets.

It is set to become the first Australian sports body to test for prescription drugs, which has previously been the responsibility of individual clubs.

Canberra conducts tests about three times a week, which Lo believes is more than most other clubs.

The NRL is awaiting a report on allegations some New Zealand players mixed prescription drugs with energy drinks during the World Cup.

Lo doesn't believe it's a widespread practice, but said it can incite heart issues and would back a potential sleeping pill ban.

He said their use is extremely rare at Canberra.

Several Raiders players are taking part in a sleeping study at Australian Institute of Sport, with hopes it could eradicate the reliance on sleeping medications.

''I hope they can be eradicated completely,'' Lo said.

''Sleeping pills are something you should only use short term, otherwise your body becomes chemically and psychologically addicted.

''I strongly suggest they don't do it. The players at the Raiders know my stance and the last time I wrote a prescription would have been over a year ago.''