Huge increase in players failing to return after HIAs as NRL grapples with concussions

There has been a significant increase in the number of players who have not returned to the field after undergoing a head-injury assessment this season in an indication NRL clubs are taking a more conservative approach to concussion management.

The NRL will review the handling of a series of head knocks so far in round six, including incidents involving Nathan Cleary, Cameron Munster, Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen. The four marquee men played key roles in their respective sides’ victories despite being involved in contentious collisions.

As debate continues about whether they should have been removed from the fray, figures for the opening five rounds show that the number of players coming from the field for HIAs is less than the corresponding period last year. So far 50 players have come off for HIAs in 2021, compared to 57 last season.

However, this year 30 players (60 per cent) failed to return to field, as opposed to 14 (25 per cent) last year.

While doctors are expected to treat each case on its merits, the statistics appear to demonstrate a more cautious approach when assessing players.

Despite this, several incidents from the weekend remain under scrutiny.

Roosters utility Victor Radley is facing a ban of up to three games after he attracted a grade-two careless high tackle on Cameron Munster. Grant also appeared to be dazed after a collision with James Tedesco, but neither Storm star was asked to undergo a HIA. Grant came up with the winning play minutes after being cleared to continue.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo confirmed both incidents would be reviewed.

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