Canterbury Bulldogs winger Mitch Brown has recovered from a concussion and will play against Cronulla this Monday night.
Brown was unfortunately knocked out during last week’s clash against the Broncos, leaving his side with one less player on the bench for the remainder of the game.
With so much scrutiny surrounding concussions in contact sport, the issue has come to the forefront of the Bulldogs this week.
Recent postmortem studies from the US into concussions has found that players with a history of concussions or head knocks, could potentially develop a progressive degenerative disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This causes degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Sufferers of CTE are more likely to develop dementia from a young age, including memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression.
In a contact sport like Rugby League, unfortunately concussions will always be prevalent. But the NRL is in a difficult position at the moment, caught between the welfare of their players and the entertainment aspect of the game.
The broadcasters and the fans want to see the game at it’s best, when everyone is on the field, fit and healthy. It makes for the best entertainment and sells the game better. The clubs also want their best team on the field every round, and players will be the first to say that they want to play every week.
NRL has specific guidelines in place in relation to concussion. In the period following a concussion, a player should not be allowed to return to play or train until they have had a formal medical clearance.
The NRL Concussion guidelines state “the risk of complications is increased by allowing the player to return to play (or training) before they have recovered completely.”
In the first minute of the Eels v Warriors game last weekend, Parramatta captain Tim Mannah was involved in a head collision that left him wobbly and clearly concussed. He was taken off, only to return to the field later on in the match.
However, if Mannah were unable to return to the field, this would leave his side with 16 players in total, 79 minutes remaining in the match.
The debate is that if an accident like this was to occur, then the side with one less player shouldn’t be completely disadvantaged.
Some fans believe the 18th man should be able to join the bench and replace the concussed player if doctors think the player cannot return to the field.