Origin game one man of the match Cameron Munster said watching Isaah Yeo stumble back into the Blues defensive line after a head knock in the opening play made him feel “sick”.
Munster – who himself had to come off the field for a HIA doing the 2020 series – said he was about to go over and help but was beaten there by Tariq Sims.
Criticisms have been leveled at both the NSW doctor, and the independent NRL doctor for not pulling Yeo from the series opener.
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Munster said it wasn’t a good look for the game as a whole.
“We have been speaking about it for years and years about the welfare of our players and our heads. It’s not ideal, but at the end of the day it is someone’s life as well. You don’t want him to get old and have dementia,” he said.
“To be honest, I was going to go and see if he was all right. I was going to run over. Then he started stumbling going back to the line. It wasn’t rocket science. You could have seen he was not well . It makes me sick. Someone had to put their hand up and take responsibility for it because it’s not on.”
NSW team doctor Nathan Gibbs said the NRL’s independent doctor was the only person to assess vision of the tackle.
“On ground level we don’t really have good vision to even see the incident,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We asked to view it with the Bunker doctor and the Bunker doctor showed me the vision he selected. He said Isaah had a hit to the jaw and we looked at that. He asked if we could get our orange shirt (trainer) to do a category three which is an on-field check. We got Trav to do that, and I reported back to the bunker and he said, ‘all good’.”
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Blues advisor Greg Alexander admitted the Blues box thought Yeo’s night was over.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast, Alexander described the situation as “a confusing one”.
“I automatically said, ‘Well that’s a category one, we’re gonna get him off’,” he said.
“Despite staying on the field, he was obviously affected and probably shouldn’t have stayed on as long as he did.”
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Yeo appeared to stumble after being involved in the very first tackle of the game on Queensland’s Josh Papalii, and had to be supported by teammate Tariq Sims.
“The trainer couldn’t get out to him immediately and I don’t know why he wasn’t called immediately from the independent doctor,” Alexander said.
“(NSW doctor) Nathan Gibbs went down to the independent doctor and spoke to him, it was called a category three which meant that once our trainer got out there, all he needed to do was pass the HIA, and he did.”
Yeo would later come within a meter of scoring under the sticks for the Blues with the last play of the match, which would’ve seen Nathan Cleary kick after the siren to level the score.
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Alexander said the Blues were “out-enthused” and “got a lesson in ruck-control” by Queensland. He said the mood among the squad on Thursday morning was “flat”.
“It’s very disappointing after losing last night, especially at home in front of a sellout crowd. There’s two more games to go, they’ve gotta pick themselves up – everyone does,” he said.
“We got a lesson in ruck control last night. Very few times were we on the front foot going at the Queensland defense in numbers. On the flip side, Queensland did a great job to play the ball quicker than us, (they) were coming at us, which made it very difficult for the halves.”
“Our halves we’re just standing there waiting … not coming on to the ball,” he said.
“I know Nathan found himself in that position a lot of times on tackle five, plus they out-enthused us. They were quicker off the line.”
Alexander said it was the NSW back three that kept the Blues in the game, and ultimately could’ve won it.
“Daniel Tupou was very good on the wing, Brian To’o caught everything that was thrown at him, and Teddy was Teddy – he did everything he could to get New South Wales home last night,” he said.
“Queensland played at a quicker pace where required, and we didn’t hold them down their end. We didn’t sprint off the line to jam them and keep them on their try line, and they made it out pretty easy.”
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