Out: Souths star Greg Inglis was knocked out in the opening minutes of the game against Wests Tigers and spent the rest of the match in the sheds. Photo: Getty-Images
Souths superstar Greg Inglis provided an insight into the mindshift NRL players still needed to make in these early days of the concussion law when he admitted it was "disappointing" to be confined to the dressing shed during his team's shock defeat to Wests Tigers last Friday.
Inglis was effectively knocked out of the game by a Tim Simona tackle not long after kick-off, and while he conceded the law was introduced to protect players who had suffered such a head knock, he revealed he had one nagging thought on his mind as the Rabbitohs were outmuscled: Would he have returned to the action if the rule wasn't in place?
"That's what I kept asking myself," he said on Thursday. "Most likely 'yes' – I'd give myself probably 90 per cent chance I would've went back on. But, In the end, new laws and all that came in [and] it's all for player welfare and player concern, so I'm all for it.
"I probably would've went off [in the pre-concussion law days], sat 10 minutes out and went back on - so [you] just never know. In saying that sometimes you do more harm than good by going back out."
As Wests Tigers forward Liam Fulton was stood down for the second time in three weeks due to a concussion, Inglis said there was a negative vibe in the NRL due to the "fuss" being made over the rule. He maintained league remained a relatively safe contact sport to play despite recent events.
"I don't think the game has changed whatsoever, it's always been safe," he said. "People are now just focusing on the new rule changes. It's just one of those things – people are focusing on the concussion rules, and it's good for player welfare.
"But, I certainly didn't like sitting in the sheds, to be honest. But I'm sure most players in my situation would've thought the same thing."
Inglis has been cleared to play Canberra this weekend but took time out to spare a thought for Newcastle's Alex McKinnon – who was being treated for spinal damage after being tackled against the Melbourne Storm. Inglis described the terror a player felt while being dumped on his head – as he was twice in one game by former Manly forward Richie Fa'aoso last year and by Canterbury's Krisnan Inu in a match earlier last season.
"In the end it's one of those freak accidents that just happened, very rarely, never happened," he said of McKinnon. "As players we sign onto a contact sport and know the risks we're going to take out there.
"You've just got to brace yourself [when you're landing head-first]. Nothing really goes through your head, it just happens. It's just one of those things. For the split-second it happens you're just hopeful that freakish stuff never happens.
"There's always a moment [after hitting the ground] you've got to question how's your neck and everything feeling around it ... I don't know ... it happens so fast."
The Queensland State of Origin centre said it did not surprise him that catastrophic injuries were rare in rugby league.
"Not really surprised," he said. "Everyone knows the risks, they train to take hits; we train our boys to do all this kind of stuff."