Warriors coach Nathan Brown has questioned the value of the NRL’s new concussion replacement initiative, saying it will be irrelevant because the threshold is too high.
The Australian Rugby League Commission announced on Tuesday that clubs would be able to use an 18th man from round five onwards, if they lost three players to head knocks during a match.
The rule is designed to encourage teams to take a more cautious approach to assessing concussions, though the extra man is slated to be an emerging player, rather than just another first grader.
Brown supports the spirit of the rule but suggested it will be virtually meaningless in a practical context.
“I’m a fan of them bringing in an 18th man and I understand why they want a certain type of player [but] what I don’t get is that you have to have three head knocks,” said Brown.
“I’m not sure what the stats say but I’ve been coaching for a lot of years and I’ve never been involved in three head knocks [for one team] in one game … so I don’t get that part.”
Brown said the 18th man should be activated if a team has two players fail head injury assessments (HIA’s) during a match.
“Two would have been fair,” said Brown. “[On Saturday] Canberra had two head knocks, then lost a bloke through injury, and had to leave a player out there with a floating rib.
“Against the Gold Coast [in round one] we played in 30-degree heat, had two blokes with head knocks that couldn’t go back on, plus we had an injury. We had one reserve for a lot of that game and Euan Aitken had to play with a ruptured ankle ligament for [60 minutes].
“With two head knocks and one injury you are forcing other players to stay on the field injured because winning is very important part of playing professional sport. So I don’t see the point of bringing the rule in.”
Ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Roosters, Brown is pleased with the progress so far this season. The thrilling 34-31 win over the Raiders was another step in the right direction, though the team will be far from complacent, after a shaky second quarter, which almost put the match out of sight.
“The first 15 minutes we were on top,” said Brown. “When the two boys had the head clash for the Raiders the game stopped a bit and it was Canberra who went from third gear to fifth gear and we went from fourth gear to second gear. They scored three quick tries, thankfully halftime came for us because it didn’t look like slowing anytime soon.”
If that was a negative, the turnaround after halftime, which came from improved attitude and application, was noteworthy.
“To score five tries in a half of footy and doing it with controlled footy [was pleasing],” said Brown. “I hope they have worked out if you do certain things well consistently you are a handy team.”
The Warriors were below their best in the first half against the Knights and the Raiders and still searching for that week-to-week consistency.
“It’s early days at the moment,” said Brown. “I can’t make too many huge statements but certainly it’s something we would like to achieve … not easy but something that we want.”
The lockdown in Brisbane has had a knock on effect for the Warriors, with 13 players unable to travel to play for feeder club Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup.
“There are a large number of players that didn’t get a game last week and won’t for a few weeks,” said Brown.
There are also four development players in quarantine in Brisbane at the moment, unable to train or play, after travelling up last week ahead of a match for the Redcliffe colts team.
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