Kirwan calls for concussion consistency

Blues coach John Kirwan says Super Rugby franchises are playing by the rules when it comes to concussion testing, but those rules lack consistency.

The Blues are preparing for this weekend’s clash with the Highlanders, the team who re-ignited the hotly debated topic of player welfare when prop Josh Hohneck was allowed to return to play just minutes after being knocked unconscious during their 25-20 win over the Crusaders on Saturday.

“When someone’s knocked out cold, surely that’s the test. What are you testing for? He got knocked out cold,” Kirwan said.

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark insists team doctor Greg Macleod followed every protocol and that Hohneck passed the enhanced head injury assessment (HIA) introduced by SANZAR last year.

The Blues employ the HIA test but also follow the protocols of World Rugby, which state that any player demonstrating symptoms of concussion must be removed from the field and not be allowed to return.

Kirwan said that was demonstrated when flanker Luke Braid was knocked out during the Blues’ 16-14 win over the Brumbies last week.

“We saw that and he was off and didn’t come back on,” Kirwan said.

“We just need to put the players’ care first and get consistency around it.”

In an attempt to solve the matter, New Zealand Rugby will this weekend trial a new system which will see the independent match-day doctor provided with video footage to monitor potential concussions.

“There’s screens everywhere, our team doctor sees that stuff and has full responsibility. If we notice something after, and he’s passed the test, then we need to say we think he’s off his game by five per cent and reassess,” Kirwan said.

“The grey area is when they pass their test and they go back on and [symptoms] come on later.

“I don’t think anyone’s trying to do the wrong thing, we just need to make sure we get better at it.”

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