NRL to review HIA incident involving Knights forward Tyson Frizell
KNIGHTS officials are confident they will have no case to answer after the NRL confirmed it will be reviewing a controversial head knock involving Tyson Frizell in Sunday's season-ending play-off loss to Parramatta.
The NSW Origin and Test back-rower was dazed after attempting to make a 10th-minute tackle on Eels prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard and appeared to stumble as he tried to regain his feet.
He was allowed to play on momentarily until he was eventually replaced for a head-injury assessment, prompting Channel Nine commentators Peter Sterling and Brad Fittler to declare he was unlikely to play any further part in the match.
Instead Frizell returned to the field, having surprisingly received the all-clear from medical staff, and proceeded to play for 60 minutes, making 112 attacking metres and 24 tackles in Newcastle's 28-20 loss.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley confirmed on Monday that the incident would be reviewed as standard procedure.
"We've got pretty strict rules around head-injury assessments," Annesley said.
"I'm not going to suggest to you at the moment that anything untoward has happened.
"We need to get more information from the people who actually conduct the examination and then we make decisions ... we'll follow that normal process, follow it through, and then make any decisions that need be."
Annesley added that he was "not suggesting that anything wrong has been done. We need to get more information. I don't want to jump to any conclusions."
Under previous administrations, the Knights had a chequered history with concussion-related incidents.
In 2016, former Knights winger James McManus launched unprecedented legal action against the club, claiming he suffered a permanent brain injury and was forced to retire prematurely because he was allowed to continue playing and training after suffering head knocks.
McManus's hearing is scheduled to commence in the Supreme Court on Monday next week and is expected to run for 10 days.
Barely a year after the former NSW Origin flanker confirmed he was suing his former employer, the Knights were fined $50,000 by the NRL - and heavily criticised by high-profile commentators - after allowing fullback Brendan Elliot to play on following a sickening high shot in a game against South Sydney.
With regards to the Frizell incident, Knights chief executive Phil Gardner said the medical staff who cleared him to return were independent.
"I saw what you saw," Gardner said. "He got a hit to the head and passed his HIA and was allowed back on.
"I can only imagine that he was fine because they watch that [head knocks] really, really closely.
"I talked to him this morning and he's not showing any ill effects.
"And they're independent doctors, because we haven't been able to take our own doctors up there, into the hub.
"So the doctors they've got up there are being shared by all the clubs. They're even more risk averse, so I think there is zero chance a player would be allowed back on the field, if there was anything to worry about."
Gardner described Frizell as being "as tough as teak".
"What a great player he has been since he came to the club," Gardner said.
Meanwhile, Annesley has backed the match-day officials after the contentious penalty try on Sunday that sealed Parramatta's win.
Eels centre Will Penisini was awarded a 76th-minute penalty try after Knights winger Enari Tuala impeded him as he chased a Clint Gutherson grubber kick.
Debate raged about whether the ball touched the ground before Gutherson kicked it, and whether Tuala's indiscretion warranted a penalty try.
Annesley referred to the laws of the game when he explained that players are entitled to drop kick the ball at any point on the field, not merely for goal-line re-starts or shots at field goal.
In the glossary of the laws of the game, a drop kick is descibed as "a kick whereby the ball is dropped from the hands [or hand] and is kicked immediately it rebounds from the ground."
Annesley said video replays indicated Penisini would have scored had he not been fouled, unlike an incident the previous night involving Sydney Roosters lock Victor Radley, who was about to be tackled by Gold Coast fullback Jayden Campbell.
Knights lock Sauaso Sue looks set to miss the first two games of next season after being charged with grade-two dangerous contact on Eels winger Blake Ferguson.
Sue was reported after an awkward leg twist that left Ferguson fuming.