St George Illawarra Dragons doctor couldn't access vision of Josh Dugan incident because of technical glitch

Did Dugan require an HIA? Video: Sydney Morning Herald

The St George Illawarra Dragons doctor was denied the chance to review vision of Josh Dugan's collision with teammate Russell Packer - which led to the joint venture club being slapped with a staggering $100,000 fine over a concussion breach - because a sideline television was not working at the time.

Fairfax Media understands Dragons medico Dr Tom Carrigan was unable to assess Dugan for any symptoms of concussion on a monitor from inside the Head Injury Assessment tent because of a technical glitch.

The Dragons were trialling a new communications system on behalf of the NRL on the night, and Carrigan was able to talk to head trainer Nathan Pickworth, who conducted the on-field assessment of Dugan.

The broadcast frequency on the system is encrypted to prevent eavesdropping.

Full contact: Josh Dugan cops an accidental elbow from teammate Russell Packer in a tackle on Paul Gallen. Photo: Fox Sports

Full contact: Josh Dugan cops an accidental elbow from teammate Russell Packer in a tackle on Paul Gallen. Photo: Fox Sports

But Dr Carrigan couldn't provide Pickworth with his assessment because the monitor - which is on the sidelines at all NRL games - was malfunctioning at the time in a match that was attended by the NRL's chief medical officer, Dr Paul Bloomfield.

It led to Pickworth making an on-field assessment of Dugan, who crashed to the turf after a friendly-fire elbow from Packer as the pair attempted to tackle Sharks skipper Paul Gallen during the Dragons' gritty local derby win over the premiers at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday night.

The sideline doctor's input has been crucial in a number of concussion assessments already this season, with Brisbane forward Alex Glenn hauled off the field on the evidence shown on a small-screen monitor within a minute of being cleared by a Broncos trainer in the opening match of the season.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said he was "dismayed" Dugan wasn't taken from the field having watched the match with his family at home.

NRL concussion protocols state a player must rise to his feet within 20 seconds of having been cleared of a neck injury, which Dugan has a history of, or otherwise be taken off for a concussion test.

The Dragons are believed to be bitterly disappointed their medical staff's integrity has been called into question after Pickworth asked Dugan, who was one of the Red V's best despite the early knock, a number of questions which he answered without trouble.

The decision to leave Dugan on the field riled Sharks coach Shane Flanagan and Gallen, but his St George Illawarra counterpart Paul McGregor claimed his off-contract star was being assessed for an injured jaw and argued he had a ready-made replacement in Kurt Mann sitting on the bench.

"The Dragons have the upmost respect for player safety and fully support the NRL's rules and processes in relation to concussion as our track record would support," the Dragons said in a statement on Monday.

"Equally, the Dragons support the integrity of our medical staff in their decisions and delivery of the NRL's procedures and policies."

The Dragons hauled State of Origin back-rower Tyson Frizell from the field for a HIA - which he later failed - during their round-two loss to the Eels.

St George Illawarra were one of three clubs to be slugged enormous fines for concussion breaches in round three with the Knights whacked with a $100,000 penalty over a Brendan Elliot incident and the Titans $150,000 over three separate incidents in Friday night's clash with the Eels.

The Knights confirmed on Monday they were aware of the breach notice relating to Elliot, but were privately dismayed that the actions of their trainer and long-serving Kangaroos medico Tony Ayoub had been called into question.

Elliot eventually left the field in the second half after a second head knock, but the Knights are adamant he didn't suffer concussion from a 28th-minute hit from Hymel Hunt.

smh.com.au

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