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NRL look at tackle technique in head blows

The NRL wants to encourage a change in tackling techniques to minimise head knocks with around 70 per cent of concussions suffered by defenders this season.

Boyd Cordner’s retirement has put the spotlight back on concussions, after Sydney Roosters teammate Jake Friend was also forced out of the game earlier this year.

Cronulla captain Wade Graham is also facing an indefinite period out after his fourth head knock this season.

Alarmingly, all those blows have come to players known to be good defenders and who have been among the best in the front line for some time.

In total, 67 players have failed HIAs and 64 games have been missed across the league due to concussion this season, according to physio Brien Seeney.

“Part of the reason we have a medical advisory panel is to try and collate all the information we get out of our injury surveillance scheme,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

“It monitors all player injuries and requires input from clubs.

“We can use our medical advisory panel to analyse the data to look at various processes and procedures we can put in place and training methodologies.

“Let’s look at why the 70 per cent are taking place and analyse it.

“We’ll feed those back to the clubs and high performance staff so they can look at how they change their coaching methods.”

Annesley’s comments came as Parramatta second-rower Ryan Matterson claimed the NRL needed to be more proactive on the issue.

Matterson himself has missed 14 weeks of football in the past three years through three separate concussions, after suffering his first serious one while playing beside Cordner at the Roosters in 2018.

The NRL has taken significant steps forward in recent years, with this year’s crackdown aimed at kerbing concussions.

An 11-day mandatory stand down has already been imposed following any concussion, unless players are cleared by an independent brain doctor.

But a Sydney Morning Herald survey this week revealed 73 per cent of players believed in some cases players disguised their concussion symptoms in order to stay on the field or return to play.

Another concern for Matterson is it is often on players to report symptoms as they attempt to fight back from concussions.

“I think (the game) has matured. But I also feel like other sports in other countries are more advanced than we are,” Matterson said.

“We’re a little bit behind in that part but the good thing is we are on the step forward.

“I’ve noticed that there are different protocols and a lot more tests and things in America that things are getting done in the NFL.

“Whereas we are more playing the waiting game. In Australia we’re waiting to see how your symptoms feel.

“We’re more of a reactionary sport.”

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