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Bloomfield trumpets NRL concussion rules

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

The NRL's chief medical officer has trumpeted the game's stringent concussion laws, claiming players are now more aware than ever about the health risks regarding head knocks.

Just days before former Newcastle player James McManus's legal action against his old club is set be heard in the NSW Supreme Court, Dr Paul Bloomfield praised the game's head policies.

The veteran doctor cited how the governing body this year improved definitions surrounding signs of concussion, and introduced a slow-to-stand category two symptom.

The on-field assessments and reporting by trainers have also been tightened, as have the protocols surrounding follow-ups to head injuries and repeated concussions.

"The game's concussion guidelines are stronger than they have ever been before," Bloomfield told AAP on Tuesday.

Bloomfield, who has been involved in the game for more than 20 years and was CMO at Manly for 12 seasons, said rules around head knocks have changed rapidly since 2015.

It was a round 20 game two years ago when McManus suffered a concussion in what eventually became his final NRL game before eventually calling it quits last year.

He is reportedly suing for negligence in a series of incidents leading up to his final appearance, including being allowed to keep playing and having unqualified people decide on his health.

The NRL declined to comment on the McManus case on Tuesday, however Bloomfield insisted there had been a significant turnaround in the treatment of head knocks.

The game's medical advisory panel often update their protocols based on research from the International Consensus on Concussion.

Recent improvements also included the introduction of the same Hawk-Eye technology used by the referee bunker for doctors to use at Allianz Stadium and Telstra Stadium in Sydney.

"And we will no doubt see improvements in technology and access to that technology at our venues in the future," Bloomfield said.

"We are gradually changing the culture among the players to now realise it is in their interests to come off the field to be tested if they have sustained a head knock.

"All Head Injury Assessments are reviewed at the end of every round, using the Bunker technology. Every angle of every incident is assessed through the process.

"On occasions Clubs are asked to explain the circumstances surrounding some interchanges.

"While many of those have been quite legitimate, some assessments have led to warnings or fines. The NRL will continue to be vigilant around concussion."

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