NRL officials are set to seek a formal explanation from Melbourne about why Ryan Hoffman was allowed to continue playing after he appeared to be concussed in Saturday night's 24-6 defeat of South Sydney.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said yesterday it was ''scary'' to watch Hoffman staggering around on the field in the opening minutes of the qualifying semi-final, but he was not replaced and went on to win the man of the match award.
With NSW hooker Robbie Farah having played on in Origin III after suffering a head knock that ruled him out of the following weekend's game for Wests Tigers, there are concerns that the new concussion rule is being ignored in crucial matches.
Under the guidelines introduced this season, if a player shows signs of concussion during a game, the trainer must take him to the club's medical officer for a clinical assessment.
However, Hoffman remained on the field and was heavily involved in play, despite stumbling on several occasions as he tried to get back in the defensive line.
Referees Shayne Hayne and Jason Robinson appeared to be aware that something was wrong with Hoffman but did not stop play, and he scored the opening try of the match in the seventh minute.
The NRL's chief medical officer, Ron Muratore, said the concussion rules were put in place for the welfare of the players. ''If he got smashed again he would be a lot worse,'' Muratore said.
Bellamy said the sight of Hoffman staggering about on the field had worried him but defended the decision not to replace the back-rower.
''We got a report from the medico that goes out there, and by the time he got out there his head had basically cleared up again,'' Bellamy told ABC radio.
''He was around the play-the-ball there for the first couple of tackles after it happened, so it was hard for anyone to get at him but … there was a break in play about 1½ minutes later so he got a chance to examine him them or make a decision then.
''He came back and said basically that he was a bit groggy there for about 30 seconds but he was OK. I must say it scared me a bit when he got up and stumbled. That is always a scary sign for any person in a footy club but his head cleared and he was right to play on.''
However, Muratore was not satisfied with Bellamy's explanation, and said he expected NRL football operations general manager Nathan McGuirk to take up the issue with the Storm.
''I find it a bit unusual that he found it scary to see him stumbling about but then the on-field trainer couldn't get to the player,'' Muratore said.
''The on-field trainers - they are not medicos - seem to spend half their lives on the field giving messages to players but they can't assess a player who the coach found quite scary to see stumbling about.''
The ARL Commission has shown that it considers concussion an important issue by ordering all players who make contact to the head of an opponent with their shoulder directly to the judiciary, and McGuirk confirmed the Hoffman incident would be reviewed today.
''We will contact the Storm if it is deemed we require additional information regarding this incident,'' McGuirk said.
''We have strong procedures regarding players who sustain head injuries, which are designed to ensure the welfare of players is paramount.''