NRL: Nathan Brown backs Knights medical team over concussion call

CLOSE ATTENTION: Knights physical performance manager treats Brendan Elliot after he was hit high by Souths centre Hymel Hunt. Picture: Getty Images.
CLOSE ATTENTION: Knights physical performance manager treats Brendan Elliot after he was hit high by Souths centre Hymel Hunt. Picture: Getty Images.

KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown has defended his medical staff and labelled the club’s concussion protocols among the best in the NRL.

Club officials and football staff met on Tuesday night to formalise a response to a breach notice after an incident involving fullback Brendan Elliot.

The Knights were one of three clubs slapped with penalties for their handling of players who suffered headknocks last round and have until Friday to convince the NRL they should not be fined $100,000.

Elliot was felled in a high tackle by Souths centre Hymel Hunt in the 28th minute of the 24-18 loss to Rabbitohs on Saturday.

He received treatment from Knights physical performance manager Tony Ayoub – a veteran of 30 years who holds the same role with the Australian team – before resuming play without leaving the field for a head-injury assessment. He continued playing until receiving a second head knock in the 62nd minute.

“As a club we support what the NRL is trying to do with concussion,” Brown said. “But we also support our staff. Tony Ayoub has 30 years experience. Tony has made a judgement call and as head coach I support our staff.”

The Knights, who face court action from former winger James McManus over the club’s handling of his concussions, have a close association with the Sports Concussion Clinic at the John Hunter Hospital.

The clinic is led by respected neurologists, Professor Chris Levi and Dr Andrew Gardner.

“They are world leaders in their field and are independent to the club,” Brown said. “Any player who fails a concussion test goes and sees them.”

Elliot trained on Tuesday and along with Sione Mata’ia, who also suffered a head knock, and Nathan Ross (ankle) has been named in an unchanged 21-man squad to tackle Penrith on Friday.

“Brendan is fine,” Brown said. “If he had not passed his SCAT 3 (concussion) test the day after the game, we would have went and seen Dr Levi. He passed that and we have no concerns with Brendan at this stage. He still has one or two boxes he has to tick before he is allowed to play. That decision won’t be made by our doctors, it will be made by independent people.”

Asked if the Knights got it right with Elliot, Brown said: “I’m pretty confident the process will come out and answer that for us.”