‘These are player safety issues’: NRL defends handling of head injuries after Rabbitoh concussion criticism

The NRL has rebuked claims that Taane Milne was incorrectly ruled out of South Sydney’s loss to Canberra after a knock to the head, telling managers they are not qualified to question the league’s independent doctors.

Milne was deemed to have received a category one knock to the head in the Rabbitohs’ loss to Canberra, and was immediately ruled out of the match after displaying concussion symptoms on the pitch.

Souths manager Jason Demetriou subsequently claimed he would speak to the NRL about the incident, insisting there was nothing wrong with the winger.

But at his weekly news conference on Monday, Graham Annesley showed replays of Milne’s head hitting the ground before returning to the South line.

The NRL chief of football also revealed that Milne had failed his HIA off the pitch, meaning he would not have been allowed back onto the pitch even if he was deemed category two.

“These are player safety issues. These are not issues that players, coaches or anyone else should rule out,” Annesley said.

“For people without medical qualifications to say that he was fine or that he could have returned to the field (is wrong).

“To be brutally honest, we cannot be guided by the opinions of people without medical training or by the player himself. It is a medical diagnosis that is carried out.”

Annesley said she hadn’t heard from Demetriou on Monday about the situation, as the Rabbitohs also lost Tevita Tatola to a blow to the head.

The incident comes after coaches raised several issues about players considered top-notch in the early stages of the season, immediately ruling them out of games.

And while Annesley admitted that they had potentially been too cautious in the early rounds about implementing the independent doctor, she insisted this was not the case with Milne.

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