KNIGHTS fullback Brendan Elliot is set to play against Penrith on Friday, despite the concussion furore that is likely to cost his club $100,000.
Newcastle were one of three NRL clubs hit with breach notices on Monday for their handling of players who suffered head knocks on the weekend.
They have five business days to convince the NRL they should not be fined $100,000.
St George Illawarra face the same fine for an incident involving Josh Dugan, while Gold Coast are in line for a $150,000 sanction for incidents involving Kane Elgey, Joe Greenwood and Ryan Simpkins.
“These are, by far, the heaviest fines ever proposed by the game for concussion breaches,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said in a statement.
“That is how seriously we take it. The clubs involved have the opportunity to respond to the breach notices, and we will consider those responses, but our message is clear … we are not going to allow player safety to be put at risk through breaches of the concussion rules.”
Elliot was hit in a high tackle by South Sydney centre Hymel Hunt in the 28th minute and immediately dropped to the turf.
After treatment, he continued playing until the 62nd minute, when he suffered a second head knock and was replaced.
The Herald understands that on Monday he passed the necessary concussion tests and has been cleared to play against the Panthers at Pepper Stadium on Friday.
Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said he was still waiting on Monday afternoon for the NRL breach notice to arrive so that the club could respond.
“At this stage we don’t know exactly what the breach is,’’ Gidley said.
“When we receive the breach notice, and understand exactly what it is for, then we can build our case and get all the people in the room to get all the information we need to put a response together.’’
Asked if the Knights were confident they could establish that Elliot was not concussed after the first incident, and did not need to undergo a head-injury assessment, Gidley said he would prefer not to comment until after he had received the breach notice.
Regardless of Elliot’s condition, the Knights face a tough task in explaining why he was not taken from the field to be assessed after spending several minutes prone on the turf.
“Our rules are very clear, if a player lies motionless on the field, he must come off for an assessment,’’ Greenberg said.
Greenberg added that if heavy fines did not prompt clubs to show more care for concussed players, other possible sanctions included revoking accreditation of officials and/or deducting competition points.
Previously, the heaviest sanction handed out to a club for breaching concussion protocols was $20,000.
Gidley was surprised about what he said was “a change in process”, whereby all three clubs were sanctioned without first having a chance to state their cases.
He also queried how Hunt, who was suspended for four games, was not sent off after his high shot on Elliot.