The NRL has ramped up its efforts into tackling concussion by teaming up with Harvard for a new study described as one of the biggest of its kind in the world.
The governing body announced on Tuesday it will provide an initial grant of $250,000 for the Retired Professional Rugby League Players Brain Healthy Study.
The funding is expected to significantly increase the sample size for researchers and comes after 18 months of collaboration with the University of Newcastle.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg heralded the decision that will tip the game's investment into the area of concussion past $1 million next season.
"This research will give experts better insight than ever before into head injuries," Greenberg said.
"And it'll allow us as a game to transform that research into real world practices and policies. I expect that this research will continue for decades.
"We're committed to playing the long game here.
"What happens on the field is only part of the puzzle.
"We'll continue to evolve our on-field practices and off-field research to make our game as safe as possible."
Principle researcher Andrew Gardner will lead the program with professor Grant Iverson from the Spaulding Research Institute at Harvard Medical School.
"Professor Grant Iverson is a world expert in this area and he has been my personal mentor and is a co-chief investigator in this research," Gardner said.
"All of the statistical analysis and interpretation, every aspect of this study and the multiple studies that will transpire from all of the various aspects of the research program that we're running, (Harvard are) heavily involved in all of those aspects.
"So we're collecting the data and working with them to analyse that data."
The study comes six months after researchers for the first time found evidence of a degenerative brain conditions in two former rugby league players.
The concerning revelation prompted a number of ex-players to commit to donating their brain to science, including Parramatta legend Peter Sterling.
It was also widely reported that three legal firms had planned to launch class actions against the NRL over its handling of concussions following the discovery.
And two months ago, the legal team of former Newcastle winger James McManus bolstered their landmark concussion lawsuit against the NRL club after they subpoenaed video evidence in NSW Supreme Court.
Gardner, believed to have been the NRL doctor at the time, is also expected to be subpoenaed in court.
When asked if he was aware of any current lawsuits against the NRL, Greenberg said: "No."
Australian Associated Press