South Sydney general manager of football Shane Richardson has reignited the argument for independent doctors to be introduced by the NRL, saying that the Rabbitohs could not have withdrawn a concussed Sam Burgess from the field at ANZ Stadium any faster than they did.
Richardson on Friday defended Souths’ management of a concussion suffered by their captain in the defeat to Sydney Roosters on Thursday night. After sustaining a head knock while tackling Isaac Liu, Burgess continued playing for two and a half minutes before the Souths doctor ordered him off and ultimately barred him from resuming after half-time.
The NRL will scrutinise the episode – as they do with all head injury assessments – but after a week in which three clubs were fined a combined $350,000 for concussion policy breaches Souths were adamant on Friday they could not have handled the matter any faster.
Souths’ doctor was already in the ANZ dressing room assessing Burgess’ teammate Siosifa Talakai for concussion when the Englishman went down, delaying him from viewing the impact on a sideline television monitor.
“In the circumstances with two concussions at the same time we conducted the process properly in consultation with the HIA official,” Richardson said. “We brought the doctor up as quick as he could to assess the video and once he assessed the video it was decided that [Burgess] should come off.
“If you’ve only got one doctor it’s very difficult if you’ve got more than one player [possibly concussed]. I don’t think we could have handled it any quicker than we did.”
St George Illawarra chief Peter Doust, whose club was fined $100,000 for a concussion guidelines breach last Sunday, revealed concerns on Thursday about the application of the NRL policy.
Richardson also insisted that “everything has got to be assessed in its own right” and added his voice to the call for the introduction of independent doctors.
“I just think that the only way you’re going to improve the amount of time involved is by having an independent doctor there,” he said. “You’re going to get two or three head knocks in a row sometimes. There will be circumstances where the protocol is delayed.
“I’m not knocking [the NRL] for doing it because they’re trying to make people understand the importance of it, but I think you’ve got to take into account the circumstances. If you want to make it perfect you probably would have an independent doctor.”
The Burgess drama comes on the back of Sharks coach Shane Flanagan lashing critics who accused the premiers of exploiting the concussion rule to gain a free interchange in the derby loss against the Dragons last Sunday.
Sharks back-rower Wade Graham, who on Friday finalised a two-year extension to remain with the premiers, was taken off the field for a concussion test after a bomb landed on the head of the unsuspecting NSW representative.
Graham was still suffering minor headaches 48 hours after the game having taken a knock in a tackle only seconds earlier.
“It was laughable [people accused us of exploiting the free interchange],” Flanagan said. “It was three tackles earlier he tackled Tyson Frizell and copped his hip.
“We only knew there was something wrong when he couldn’t co-ordinate himself to catch the ball and we got to him straight away. He went for the concussion test and passed. He had a break and wasn’t moving properly and our trainer went and saw him and he came off.
“I’ve said to my players many times I’m not going to make them stay out there and risk [injury] and leaving myself and my trainers in a position where players could say, ‘Flanno made us stay out there and I had concussion’. Where would I stand? If a player goes out there and has concussion and something happens later because of their first concussion then where does that leave us?”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.