NRL fines Parramatta Eels $20,000 over concussion incidents

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tiTHE NRL has implemented strict new rules, starting this weekend, that prevent any player returning to the field if heavily concussed.

Their beefed-up stance comes as Parramatta was fined $20,000 ($10,000 suspended) for three concussion incidents, one a head-knock to hooker Nathan Peats in round three.

New NRL laws make is easier for club doctors to make what previously had been a difficult clinical diagnosis.

Players cannot return to the field if they show the following signs:

“When a player exhibits clear signs on the field — things like a loss of consciousness, balance disturbance, tonic posturing,” said NRL head of football, Todd Greenberg.

“If a player exhibits these types of symptoms on the field and they are clear, first of all he will be removed and second of all he won’t come back.

“That’s a very prescriptive outlook for doctors and hopefully it makes their job easier.

“If a player loses consciousness or is unresponsive on the ground, clearly he has signs of concussion and he must come off. If that’s in the 78th minute or second minute, player safety shouldn’t matter about what part of the game it is.”

Asked would desperate coaches try and bully doctors into sending concussed players back into play, Greenberg said: “To be fair, this is not really an issue for coaches. It is an issue for the medical staff of the clubs and it is also an issue about player welfare.

“I understand it will create debate but what can’t create debate is the need for us to put player welfare foremost in everything we do.”

Greenberg said players must stop believing that playing concussed is heroic or tough.

“I said this last year and I will say it again now, it is not a badge of honour to take a head knock and then get up to take the next tackle. We must put players first. Sometimes we must always protect players from themselves,” he said.

“The doctors by and large have done a really good job over the first part of the year and what we’re trying to do in working with the club doctors is give them the tools and the policy to make sure they make good clinical decisions and put their players first. I think every coach in the game would want nothing more than a safe environment.”

Meanwhile Parramatta’s fine relates to the club’s procedures when Peats was concussed against New Zealand Warriors.

An NRL statement read: “The fine relates to the breakdown in procedures to ensure Peats was assessed and treated properly. Following the incidents, the Parramatta club has already moved to step up its compliance with the concussion rules.”