Trent Robinson will not risk Luke Keary in his side’s crunch clash with Parramatta despite the halfback passing concussion protocols because decisions on head knocks “are not always black and white”.
Keary was taken off in the first half of the Roosters’ defeat to Melbourne last Saturday evening after copping an accidental knee from teammate Joey Manu.
He has a long history of concussions, suffering five in an 18-month stretch over 2018-19, though last week’s was the first since then.
“He won’t play,” said Robinson. “He got through training quite well but it just wasn’t quite enough to have him play tomorrow night.
“It means he gets this weekend off and then we get Rep Round, and he won’t play there, so it gives him three weeks to get some recovery.
“They’re not always black and white. There’s grey there. He passed a lot of the protocols there, and yesterday, the decision was made not to play.
“This happens weekly in our game so we understand it. It’s part and parcel of our game. We want to reduce it as much as possible but it does happen.”
The Roosters have been among the worst affected in recent years, with club legends Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend forced into retirement after a series of repeated head knocks.
“How we deal with it post-concussion varies depending on individuals,” said Robinson. “It’s not in my hands, it’s not in the club’s hands, it’s in the procedures and making sure that the steps are taken that the players are feeling good enough to be passed to play, whether that’s in a week, two weeks or three weeks.
“It’s not ideal but it happens a lot. We want to protect them as much as possible while still playing a physical game.
“This is a head coach standing up here, not a doctor. You’re asking the wrong person. It’s not for me to go into to deal with how he is right now.
“He trained quite well yesterday and he’s in good spirits, so I’m not concerned about him being at home and not recovering. He’s recovered quite quickly but just not enough to play on Saturday.”
Robinson said that his side had learned to deal with them by following protocols and trusting medical advice, as well as providing support for the players through the process.
“It’s easy when you know what your values are,” he said. “It’s really simple. Let the process take its course and support the player.
“They want to know that they’re cared for and they’ll be cared for. There’s enough research out there to say that it can have an effect but also that it may not have an effect as well.
“There’s differing beliefs and it’s hard to a head coach to make those calls. You’ve just got to have the right system in place and moral compass about the way that you handle it.
“People have played for a long time, we love our game and we want to keep playing it in that physical way, but also supporting the players to give them time to get back on the field.”
The Parramatta game could be seen as a make or break for the Roosters: after the Dragons’ victory over South Sydney on Thursday night, they now sit outside of the top eight and, after the Eels, will face Penrith away and then a showdown with St George Illawarra.
This period of the season will be crucial, but Robinson said that the ladder was not something that the players should be thinking about.
“We’ve had a look at the block that we’re in the middle of and this is the last game of that,” he said. “Before we separate and some of the boys go on international duty and rep duty, we want to attack the game.
“That stuff (the ladder) doesn’t help you perform in the moment. It’s true from an external point of view and coaches have to look at that, but from players point of view, we have a game on Saturday night and you have that belief that you’re going to win every game.
“Our belief is that we’re going to attack the game and how we want it, and that’s all that matters. All the external stuff doesn’t matter. I need to look at it, you (journalists) need to look at it, but players need to stay clearly focused on their performance tomorrow.”