News conference by Ricky Stuart, independent NRL doctor ruling on concussions, reaction, blow to the head of Kalyn Ponga

News conference by Ricky Stuart, independent NRL doctor ruling on concussions, reaction, blow to the head of Kalyn Ponga
News conference by Ricky Stuart, independent NRL doctor ruling on concussions, reaction, blow to the head of Kalyn Ponga

Ricky Stuart has joined calls for the NRL to get rid of the independent doctor in the bunker after Canberra had two players taken off the pitch in their 19-18 loss to North Queensland.

Speaking the day after the match, a clearly frustrated Stuart claimed that the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) “don’t trust the coaches”.

“Do you think I would let a player play if he has a concussion or is concussed?” He asked.

“I don’t just trust player feedback when they come aside on this.”

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“He was clearly fine! » | 00:56

It came after striker Corey Harawira-Naera and full-back Seb Kris were ordered off the pitch for head injury assessments as the Raiders desperately battled their way back into the game.

Stuart agreed it was the right decision to test Harawira-Naera but disagreed that Kris was showing symptoms indicating he too needed to be cleared before returning to the pitch.

” When he is [Kris] having his leg treated and I asked him and there was no fatigue and no pain in his eyes as far as when he came out, he was very consistent,” Stuart said.

“It didn’t help us in this game. This is where I talk about tenacity [of the team in that game]they were two.

“Yeah OK, Corey might have had the HIA. We had to serve two players there in very important positions for 30 minutes in that game. But the RLPA, they don’t trust the coaches.

“All they want to do is come and talk to me about how long the players are going to get and how much more money.”


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Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was not happy. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Stuart went on to slam the RLPA for not showing similar concern over the wet conditions in Townsville, which he said could have been “dangerous” had the game been played on Friday.

“I haven’t heard anyone from the RLPA come out and try to go to the NRL as far as playing here at 4.30pm in the afternoon,” he said.

“We were very lucky that it wasn’t the dampness of yesterday because I think it could have been dangerous for the well-being of the players.”

Stuart wasn’t the only one confused by NRL concussion protocols, with Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo also voicing his concerns earlier on Saturday.

Ciraldo was left puzzled after Jacob Kiraz was ordered to take to the field for an assessment, with the Bulldogs winger also puzzled by the decision.

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“I was confused too, because I didn’t see him get hit,” Ciraldo said.

“Obviously someone picked it up. We were in a good position, we had them on their line and we looked pretty good, so for that change to happen with a lot of confusion around it, we didn’t handle that very well.

“I haven’t seen the incident yet where he was hit, he may have taken a big blow to the head but he was clearly fine. It made things difficult for us, but that’s what it is and those are the rules. We have to manage that period better there.

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Jacob Kiraz was forced to undergo an evaluation. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Knights manager Adam O’Brien has also added his voice to the debate, which questioned the decision to remove Kalyn Ponga from the pitch in Newcastle’s loss to the Warriors on Friday.

Ponga himself admitted to being in disbelief when the independent doctor intervened to demand that he be taken off the pitch, saying he was fine.

O’Brien, meanwhile, said the doctor was “jumping in the shadows” in making the decision.

“There was a minute left, so that kicked him out of the game,” O’Brien said.

“But he was not aware of any incident, as he said he knows how they feel.

“And we’ve worked really hard, he has to get back into the game and now we’re jumping on shadows to get him out of the game, I don’t get it.”


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Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett was asked about the Ponga incident ahead of his side’s season opener against the Roosters and also urged the NRL to get rid of the independent doctor.

Bennett argued that having an independent doctor was the “soft” option and that the NRL was best left to the clubs to make the decision in order to ensure accountability.

“We don’t need a doctor in a box,” he told the media, including press company.

“The solution is to make the clubs more responsible, that’s what I say.

“Take the guy out of the box, because that’s why the NRL put him in there, to be reliable enough to make the right decision. We realized this last year (the system had faults) but nothing has changed with it.

“Instead of taking the soft options and pandering to clubs doing the wrong thing…clubs have to own it.”

Wayne Bennett weighed in on the debate. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Bennett went on to add that the NRL could punish clubs with “heavy fines” or a “points deduction” if they leave players on the pitch who are later found to have suffered a concussion.

“You’ll get rid of it pretty quickly,” he added.

Even Stuart admitted after the Raiders loss that while he disagreed with Bennett on most things, it was a rare occasion when the two agreed.

The introduction of independent doctors was made in February last year, but immediately came under intense scrutiny from then-Tigers coach Michael Maguire in March.

“You have someone who’s not there to get an idea of ​​what’s going on,” Maguire said at the time.

“These things need to be sorted out. You absolutely have to watch it. »

NRL head of football Graham Annesley defended the change at the time, rejecting claims that a feel for the game is important for medics to make the right decision.

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“It’s not football decisions…you don’t have to feel the game,” Annesley said.

“It’s not about whether it’s a good pass or not. These are medical opinions on how this player reacted immediately after that blow to the head.

“And the only person who can make a qualified call about it is a doctor.”

According AAPthe use of an independent doctor was “strongly supported by the club’s medical staff”.

Concussion experts have also been pushing for the NRL to introduce the change for years, arguing it would ease the pressure on club doctors to make the decision.


. Conference press Ricky Stuart doctor independent LNR statutory on on concussion cerebral concussion reaction hit head Kalyn Ponga

. News conference Ricky Stuart independent NRL doctor ruling concussions reaction blow Kalyn Ponga

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