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Staggering twist: Hoff was tripped by trainer

THE Storm have been cleared of any wrongdoing for allowing a seemingly concussed Ryan Hoffman to remain on the field in Saturday night's match against South Sydney after revelations he was tripped by a Rabbitohs trainer.

Melbourne officials were yesterday asked to provide a detailed explanation to the NRL about the incident after Hoffman stumbled to the ground and staggered back into the defensive line following a head knock in the opening minutes.

Even Storm coach Craig Bellamy was unaware of exactly what had happened, and said on Sunday that it had been ''scary'' to see Hoffman stumble. However, after studying video footage from an overhead camera, Melbourne officials advised the NRL that Hoffman had been accidentally tripped by Souths high performance manager Troy Thompson, who previously worked for the Storm.

Thompson yesterday confirmed to NRL officials he had come into contact with Hoffman while on the field, and said he had a bruise on his leg from the collision.

''We got a full report from the Storm today and we got some additional video evidence as well, and it is quite clear from the high angle that the reason Ryan trips and falls to the ground is from a slight collision with the head trainer from Souths, which was purely accidental,'' NRL football operations general manager Nathan McGuirk said.

''I don't think Craig was aware of it, he said it was scary - and it is on initial viewing of the Channel Nine footage - but after looking at the additional video evidence it is clear that he tripped.''


While Hoffman was clearly dazed after hitting his head on South Sydney forward Dave Taylor's hip while attempting to make a tackle, McGuirk said the Storm had followed the correct procedures for assessing whether a player was concussed.

Bellamy said it had taken the Melbourne trainer about 90 seconds before he could assess Hoffman as the Storm second-rower was heavily involved in play but the club yesterday provided the NRL with a list of questions and answers he had provided on the field.

''Again, we have got all the details of that from the Storm today,'' McGuirk said. ''It is very difficult sometimes, particularly when the team is in defence, to get to the player, and on viewing all the video angles today, I am completely comfortable with the actions of the head trainer.

''He was visibly stunned but they went through the right checklists that they have to afterwards to determine he was fit to continue in the game.

''He did understand where he was, the time of the match … they're the type of things they ask in those situations.

''He was continually assessed, they were watching him because a player down the track may show signs of concussion but they continued to monitor him, and I believe the doctor looked at him at half-time, and he passed all the necessary tests at half-time.

''I think if you take away the issue of him falling to the ground then this may not have been an issue. That obviously brought it to everyone's attention, and there was a clear reason for that.''

Under the new concussion rules introduced by the NRL this season, players who might be concussed must answer a series of questions known as the Maddocks questions, and if they fail to give the right answers are taken from the field to be assessed by the club doctor.

Storm officials were angered by suggestions the correct procedures might not have been followed on Saturday night but McGuirk made no apology for asking the club to provide an explanation.

''I think this was an example of why we have to assess each individual incident on its merits, and on this occasion there are clear reasons for what has occurred,'' he said. ''We have to be vigilant about this issue, it is our responsibility.''