The NRL has defended the Brisbane Broncos over the club’s handling of Alex Glenn’s concussion in a season-opening win over Cronulla amid criticism that the utility remained on the field briefly after a head clash with Sharks forward Sam Tagataese.
Glenn “couldn’t remember the first half”, according to Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett, having failed a head injury assessment following a 36th-minute collision with Tagatease.
The defending premiers suffered an opening night loss, as Brisbane cruised to a straightforward 26-18 win.
He was ruled out of the rest of the match at Southern Cross Group Stadium but in the week that James McManus’s legal action against Newcastle was revealed, there were questions raised about why he was not immediately removed from the field.
Instead, after being assessed by on-field trainer Luke Adding, Glenn played the ball and stayed on the field for 25 more seconds before the trainer returned to his side, having been ordered by the club doctor Peter Hackney – who had viewed footage of the impact on the sideline – to take the player off.
Clubs face heavy fines for breaching the competition’s concussion guidelines, now in their fourth season of existence, but in a statement released on Friday the NRL said Glenn’s injury had been “handled appropriately” by the Broncos.
“A review of the incident found that Glenn was removed from the field about 35 seconds after his original assessment by the club trainer,” the NRL statement said.
“In that time he did not make any hit-ups or tackles. In fact he did not come into contact with any opponent.
“A trainer ran on to the field to attend to him while the Broncos doctor reviewed vision of the incident at the NRL’s sideline injury surveillance unit.
“Following the on-field assessment, the on-field trainer immediately reported to the Broncos doctor his assessment of Alex’s condition. The Broncos doctor ordered his immediate removal from play for further assessment. He was subsequently ruled out of the remainder of the match.
“Glenn must now undergo a review by the Broncos doctor over the next week before he can be cleared to play again.”
Eagle cam footage shows that Adding, who had been positioned behind the Brisbane attacking line as Glenn ran with the ball, assessed him for 1min25sec while he was on the ground and after he rose to his feet, before he played the ball.
Adding is then seen to rush from the field to speak to Hackney, who after a brief discussion sends him back on to retrieve Glenn.
In the meantime the Broncos had been awarded a penalty almost immediately after he played the ball, and Adding returned to usher him off seconds after the tap restart from their kick for touch.
While they were backed by head office, Brisbane were also eager to insist they had followed NRL protocols.
“We’ve spoken to the NRL. They’re totally satisfied with what occurred,” Broncos chief executive Paul White said.
“(Glenn) left the field shortly after the trainer made an initial assessment. The doctor viewed the incident (on a sideline television screen) and removed him from the field.”