Rugby league supercoach Wayne Bennett has delivered a withering serve to NRL clubs for failing their “duty of care” to concussed players.
The NRL has tweaked the system this season to give the Bunker power to intervene and judge a player to be concussed during a game.
It occured on Saturday at the SCG, when Roosters enforcer Victor Radley collided with Knights playmaker Jake Clifford and fell to the ground.
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Radley was clearly concussed, but the Chooks allowed him to stay on the field for several minutes. The Bunker intervened and Radley was forced to leave the field, and was ruled out of the game.
While the Bunker system seemed to work in that instance, Bennett was appalled the Roosters left their star on the field for so long after the head knock.
“I thought when I heard about the Bunker being used, I just giggled to myself and thought this is only going to create more controversy,” Bennett told Triple M’s Rush Hour with Leisel, Liam and Dobbo.
“I’m not blaming the game for this, I’m blaming the clubs. The game is trying to protect the game, the clubs are there to protect the players.
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“I saw another incident on the weekend and I thought it was deplorable, what happened. Even the doctor in the Bunker finally made the decision for them.
“I just can’t get over a couple of things I saw. I thought you’ve brought this on yourself, you’ve no one else to blame.
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“It won’t work, I tell you now. It’s not going to make anybody happy. But it’s because of what the clubs have done.
“The clubs have a duty of care. They talk about this duty of care, but none of them practice it. Look at Victor Radley, anyone who saw that incident knew he was knocked out.
“I’ve seen enough players go down with concussion, and he was certainly concussed at the time.”
Bennett – who is coaching the NRL’s newest team, the Dolphins, which doesn’t enter the competition until next season – is also fed up with clubs exploiting concussion to their advantage.
The Bulldogs were accused on Sunday of performing on-field concussion checks on players in order to slow the game down and create breaks in play.
“The other one, which was just hysterical, was the Canterbury player at the end of the game. He had to be convinced he had been knocked out… he was trying to work out why he was doing the concussion test,” Bennett said.
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“These guys are trained to recover in three or four minutes, then they go again. And that’s what (the Bulldogs) bought, they bought three or four minutes in this facade of being on the field, making out someone was knocked out who wasn’t.”
Bennett was then asked specifically if he was suggesting NRL clubs are manipulating the concussion rules.
“I’m not suggesting it, I’m telling you,” he said.
“Go back to Victor Radley, he’s one of the Roosters’ main players. No one wants to see him out of the game… but we’ve got a greater duty than that these days.
“They don’t need someone in the Bunker if the coaches and the trainers and the clubs are all committed to making sure nobody is on the field who’s been concussed.
“I’d like to see the game take the clubs on, instead of putting bandaids on everything.
“Every time you compromise yourself you create another problem, and we’ve compromised this too much.”
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