NRL veteran Willie Mason has implored the NRL to take a tougher stance on concussion.
The Manly prop said on Wednesday he didn’t understand how teammate Steve Matai was allowed to play two weeks after being “knocked out cold”.
He also questioned South Sydney’s move to name Kyle Turner to play the Sea Eagles in a match on Friday, just five days since he suffered a sickening head knock against Penrith.
The Rabbitohs back-rower suffered his seventh concussion in two years against the Panthers in his return to the NRL after neck surgery.
Souths coach Michael Maguire hasn’t ruled out playing Turner against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale on Friday. But he said on Wednesday a decision has yet to be made and Turner was under close medical supervision.
The NRL has considerably strengthened it rules regarding concussions over the past two seasons.
But Mason, 35, who is playing his 16th season of first grade, believes the game’s governing body needs to do more.
“I think the club or the NRL need to take a lot harder look at players in that situation,” Mason said on Wednesday.
“The protocol is there but if you get knocked out in boxing you have a mandatory three months out.
“(Manly teammate) Steve Matai two weeks ago was out cold. He couldn’t pass the test last week, now this week he is fine.
“You have all those brain surgeons out there saying that boxers aren’t allowed to box after three months because of trauma to the brain like that.
“But we can just go out (again) and play probably one of the most ferocious, physical games in the world.”
Mason said there was at least one occasion when he played following a head injury when in hindsight he wished he hadn’t.
“It was against the Kiwis and I had a fractured eye socket and they say you can go blind if something goes wrong. It’s not good,” Mason said.
The NRL has closely monitored Turner’s condition during his recovery from neck surgery in February and said earlier this week they were confident Souths would take a cautious approach to his recovery.
“We’ve done some significant work with Souths and Kyle in recent months,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said.
“We organised and funded Kyle flying down to Melbourne in June to be fully assessed (by associate professor Paul McCrory, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of sports concussion). Souths were supportive of the process that was undertaken.”