Club doctors to face more scrutiny as NRL says no to independent HIA calls

The NRL will not consider bringing in independent doctors to make on-ground HIA calls but has warned clubs their medicos will come under greater scrutiny when it comes to head-knock calls.

On Friday, NRL boss Andrew Abdo said the game would be reviewing a series of calls by the Storm’s club doctor after Harry Grant and Cameron Munster were not taken off for HIAs following head knocks in their 20-4 win against the Roosters.

The NRL will not consider bringing in independent doctors to make on-ground HIA calls but has warned club doctors will be under greater scrutiny around head knock calls moving forward.Credit:Getty

“[The concept of independent doctors] doesn’t make any sense because doctors are independent by their very nature,” Annesley argued. “They’ve trained for decades in most cases … to first and foremost protect the welfare and interests of their patients, in this case, the players.

“So their training is all about making decisions that are medically based not football based. I understand people saying but they’re still part of a team, they must be passionate about that team and so on; but they’re still doctors and they still have a medical responsibility.”

The NRL has cracked down on breaches of concussion rules in recent weeks. The Bulldogs were fined $20,000 after Lachlan Lewis was kept on the field for almost two minutes after a head knock after which he stumbled as he tried to get to his feet and was held up by concerned Rabbitohs players.

The symptoms fell into the NRL’s category one concussion management stating the player must be immediately taken from the field and ruled out for the match. The Bulldogs trainer has since said he didn’t see Lewis stumble to his feet.

Annesley also said he was comfortable with teams using the current HIA rules to their advantage.

The Storm admitted on Sunday they used a free interchange from Victor Radley’s sin-binning tactically, despite Munster not being uninjured.

Following the NRL’s concussion protocols, Munster came onto the sidelines momentarily after he was hit with a high shot by Victor Radley. He passed his on-field concussion test with the trainer but still ran to the sideline to be replaced by teammate Nelson Asofa-Solomona for the free interchange. Moments later, Munster returned to replace Christian Welch.

“What the Storm did in relation to that rule was legitimately within the rules,” Annesley said. “People will have different views about it, but did they do anything in that particular incident in breach of the interchange rule? No.”

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