NRL boss Andrew Abdo has hit back after a weekend of criticism from clubs and coaches surrounding the independent doctors, backing what he called a “strong policy” surrounding head knocks.
A number of incidents which saw players pulled off the field by the independent doctors in round one left multiple coaches scratching their heads, with Raiders mentor Ricky Stuart particularly scathing.
Stuart claimed that independent doctors had been installed because the league didn’t “trust coaches”, and Abdo refused to take a backward step despite the heavy criticism.
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“We’re not going to make decisions based on who is winning or losing or who needs to stay on the field for a team,” Abdo told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“These decisions on head injury assessments are going to be made on a players’ wellbeing regardless of the team, regardless of the score, regardless of the player. We have a policy, and that policy is about making sure we provide the safest possible environment for the players to play our sport.
“Our policy says that we have a combination of a club doctor on the field and an independent doctor using technology – both looking for potential head injury events. Not concussion, head injury events. We make no apology for our policy.
“We make no apology for the fact players will get removed from the field when they’re detected by one of these doctors for suffering a potential head injury event. We have a good, strong policy, and we’re not going to take a backward step on it.”
The NRL’s concussion policy sparked mass debate across the rugby league world at the weekend, with Nine experts and league legends Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler locking horns over the matter.
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Like Abdo, Fittler backed the current system in.
”I think the system is good, at the moment they’re obviously teetering on the side of caution and some of them seem ridiculous,” the Blues Origin coach said on Nine’s NRL Sunday Footy Show.
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“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.”
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