Date: May 16 2012
THE NRL's chief medical officer, Ron Muratore, says Wests Tigers superstar Benji Marshall should have been taken off the field for assessment rather than being allowed to play on after being stunned by a head knock against St George Illawarra this season.
Muratore was shown answering several questions in the Four Corners program ''Hard Knocks'', about the effects of concussion on players in various football codes, screened on the ABC on Monday. But there is a much longer interview with him available on the program's website.
In that, Muratore is asked by reporter Quentin McDermott whether Marshall, who had been hit by a high tackle against the Dragons, should have been taken off. Muratore replied: ''Well, at the time I think he probably should have, and the club was asked about that.''
Marshall was again stunned by a head knock in the following week's game against Canberra, and there has subsequently been much discussion between the league and the Tigers about whether the club's procedures for checking players could be better.
The league has introduced new guidelines related to the treatment of players who are concussed during games, and football operations director Nathan McGuirk said last night the league had now closed the book on the Marshall issue.
''We have worked extensively with the Tigers following those two incidents,'' he said. ''They have had a number of head knocks in subsequent weeks which have been dealt with in the proper manner. We had detailed correspondence with the Tigers, and we're comfortable with where that matter sits now.''
A number of clubs have been spoken to by the league about working harder to get the process of dealing with potentially concussed players right. Tigers club doctor Donald Kuah said last night it was only natural teething problems occurred.
''I think, in the case with Benji, he is pushing the trainer away and then he runs away from him, and the trainer comes to the sideline and is sent back out there to do an assessment of Benji's balance,'' Kuah said. ''New regulations had come in, and people were still getting used to those.
''Ron spoke to myself and the club, and there was a please explain, but he wasn't waving a big stick around. Everyone, at all the clubs, are trying to make it work, but there were a few hiccups in the early stages. I would have done the same as Ron, in his position.
''I think it's working much better now everyone is getting used to it. The point I'd like to make on behalf of the Tigers is that we take absolute care with all of our players.''
Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said the interaction between the league and the club on the issue had helped. ''When you get a new set of procedures it takes a while for everyone to understand the process, which is what happened in this case,'' he said.
Muratore said he was satisfied that, although things were still not perfect, the clubs were handling potential concussions much better now than in the early rounds.
''The Tigers got the message that Benji should have come off to be properly assessed,'' he said. ''He was eventually assessed on the field, and found to be OK to continue, but there was a gap between the incident and the assessment and that isn't ideal when it looks like a player may have been concussed.
''There must be a proper assessment off the field, as opposed to someone running alongside a player on the field. You can't do it properly that way, and if a player is making it more difficult … that can be a symptom of concussion.''
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