Brian Canavan’s first task as the NRL head of football will be to oversee an extensive consultation period with the game’s key stakeholders over Shane Richardson’s blueprint for the future.

Canavan, who will fill the role vacated by Todd Greenberg’s promotion to chief executive, will be entrusted with the responsibility of working with the clubs to set up a pathways program, including the restructure of the National Youth Competition (under-20s).

There has been plenty of conjecture in club land over the recommendations put forward by Richardson in December before rejoining South Sydney, with Canavan to continue those discussions when he gets his feet under the desk at League Central in July.

“One of the first major projects will be the continuation of the pathways review,” Canavan told Fairfax Media.

“That is a massive piece of work with a lot of parts to the jigsaw puzzle. We have to consider any knock-on effects so that we don’t have any disadvantageous outcomes of our decisions. We’ll continue with the recommendations, but they are still a work in progress right now.

“At this stage I would only be expressing a personal opinion, because I don’t have the benefit of a wider research that has been conducted by Shane Richardson and the NRL. Once I get access to that and absorb it, there will be ongoing discussions and some meetings with some CEO representatives, NRL representatives and state bodies are already going on.”

The scheduling has once again come into question after Wayne Bennett’s attack on Thursday, with five-day turnarounds and player fatigue following short turnarounds after Origin coming under fire.

While Canavan admits the restrictions around television rights limits the game from implementing its own safety measure, he insists it will be a much different outlook when the NRL gains control of the schedule in 2018.

“We’ve got a situation where the schedule is progressively evolving because of the broadcast deal,” Canavan said.

“The new deal commences in 2018 and we’ve got the elimination of Monday night games next year. That in itself will ease some pressure off next year then it’s a whole new ball game in 2018.

“I’m sure the game will work out a better scenario and favour our players. Our sports medicine and sports science has improved significantly and we do care for our players more than we did in the past. Now we just have to adjust the workload.”

Greenberg’s most influential decision during his time as the game’s head of football was the implementation of the much-maligned bunker this season.

The multi-million dollar investment was lauded at the start of the season but a number of controversial decisions has left a sour taste in the mouths of coaches and fans alike.

Canavan will oversee the productivity of the bunker and despite coming from club land, the former Roosters chief operating officer believes the bunker has a significant role to play in the sport.

“Personally, I love the bunker,” he said.

“I think just about everybody I have come across, they are now far better educated in the game and they are great grandstand or lounge chair referees. It obviously needs some tweaking, and that’s with any piece of technology. When they are implemented you work out where little glitches may lie.

“But we’re not going to stop technology and technology is great for our game. Our spectators are far better educated in our game than they have before and that’s because of the technology.”

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