The forgotten rules of concussion
The reluctance of the Melbourne Storm to replace a staggering Ryan Hoffman has highlighted the difficulties in enforcing the NRL’s new guidelines regarding concussed players.
NRL officials will seek a formal explanation from the club after Hoffman was allowed to continue playing after appearing to be concussed in the early stages of Saturday’s game at AAMI Park.
Under the guidelines, any player who shows signs of concussion must be taken by the trainer to the club’s medical officer for assessment.
The adherence by clubs toward the new guidelines, introduced this year, was always going to be tested under the microscope of finals football.
In the high-pressure atmosphere of September, momentum is everything. A player being forced to leave the field to be assessed could prove crucial, and that’s not to mention the use of a valuable interchange.
Hypothetically, if Ben Barba or Jonathan Thurston was seeing stars with ten minutes remaining in the grand final – would the trainers be instructed to remove him from the field or would he be given the minute and a half Hoffman was afforded to collect himself and carry on?
The coaches would never put their player’s safety in jeopardy for a result, but players pride themselves in pushing through the pain barrier and not letting their team-mates down.
NRL Ryan Hoffman staggered face-first into the ground and still completed the next tackle, possibly unaware of where he was other than a football field.
Each club has different rules and regulations regarding treatment, recovery, and the use of pain killing injections. It is yet to be seen which clubs will adhere to the new guidelines and which will rely on their player’s judgement to carry on.
As in most cases where rule changes are applied or considered in the NRL, the over-riding question remains – What if it happened in the grand final?
The inclusion of independent trainers and medical staff may be the only answer in protecting the players from themselves.
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