New South Wales great Andrew Johns has called for the NRL‘s independent doctor to be moved out of the Bunker.
A day after Raiders coach Ricky Stuarthttps://zzb.bz/9rzRM
accused the RLPA of “not trusting coaches” after fullback Sebastian Kris was forced off the ground, Johns said it was important for the doctors to be on the sideline, rather than watching on a screen.
“There’s got to be an independent doctor at the ground who assesses the player face to face, and talks to him,” Johns told Nine’s NRL Sunday Footy Show.
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The NRL currently has two spotters watching every game from the Bunker, who are overseen by the doctor who has no association with either club involved.
After the spotters identify a potential hit, the independent doctor makes an assessment, before speaking to the referee if they deem a player needs to come from the ground.
However, critics of the set up – including Stuart – believe the having the doctor in the Bunker and not on the sideline undermines the integrity of the club doctors, and also leads to players being pulled from the ground with no symptoms.
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”Do you think I’d let a player play if they had a concussion or is concussed?” Stuart asked reporters after the Raiders’ one-point loss to the Cowboys on Saturday.
“I don’t just trust the players’ comments when they come to the sideline in regards to that.”
HIAs performed in other games on Bulldogs winger Jacob Kiraz and Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga also drew the ire of their respective coaches.
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has also called for the system to be scrapped.
Johns said reactions of both Kiraz and Ponga when being told by trainers they were being dragged should tell league bosses all they need to know.
“The reaction [from] the players … they’re looking at the trainers going ‘what are you talking about’?” he said.
“Dale [Finucane] didn’t come off, look at the reaction of Junior Tatola. If you’re being fair dinkum, you’re saying ‘well Dale, you’ve gotta come off too because you’ve collided heads flat out’.
“There’s got to be a doctor at the ground.”
But fellow panellist Brad Fittler disagreed, but conceded communication between the independent doctor in the bunker and medical staff at the grounds could be improved.
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“I think the system is good, at the moment they’re obviously teetering on the side of caution and some of them seem ridiculous,” he said.
“At a ground [the doctor] is also distracted by crowds and all these things that are happening.
“If you’ve got someone sitting in a situation where we are – we’ve got TV screens all around with the ability to move forward time, there’s a lot of technology involved in what they’re looking at.”
After its implementation, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said the onus still fell “on the club doctors and medical staff to take the appropriate action and the system is designed to remove the player from the field as soon as possible”.
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