Look at contact training to lessen concussion: Robbo

Jasper Bruce |

Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes more can be done to lower concussion risk in the NRL.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes more can be done to lower concussion risk in the NRL.

Trent Robinson believes the NRL has room to improve its concussion management policies, including looking at rules on contact training.

The Sydney Roosters coach’s comments came after Dale Finucane this week became the latest player to retire on medical advice.

Famously-physical Cronulla forward Finucane called time on his career after his latest head knock prompted consultations with multiple independent doctors.

Finucane, 32, estimated his concussions numbered in the “double digits” across his 251-game career, leaving him little choice but to join Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Andrew Davey as recent players forced out of the game by repeated head knocks.

Just as the speed and physical intensity of the NRL are at an all-time high, so too has the risk of concussion gained greater attention.

Robinson’s Roosters have been at the forefront with concussion management.

Star players Cordner and Friend were supported in their decisions to retire prematurely through concussion and have since held off-field roles at the club.

In recent times, five-eighth Luke Keary has been given extra time to recover in the wake of his head knocks given his extensive history, with Sam Walker’s return delayed until Anzac Day following a concussion in round five.

In March 2023, the NRL amended its concussion protocols and now requires any player diagnosed with concussion to refrain from contact training and games for 11 days.

But Robinson said there was room for the NRL to follow the NFL’s lead and mandate stricter rules around contact training in an effort to guard against head knocks.

In the NFL, players are only able to suit up for padded practices 14 times in the regular season, and only once a week during the play-offs.

“I think we can improve the training procedures that do go about or the timing of when we do contact, I think that would be an improvement on what we do at the moment,” the Roosters coach said.

“It’s a balance between guarding the things that we love about the sport and improving safety for the players. We need to have those two factors in mind and I’m sure we’ll continue to do that.”

It comes as Sharks captain Cam McInnes insists Finucane’s retirement had not prompted any thoughts as to his own safety in the NRL frontline.

“The game has done a great job (at protecting players),” the Sharks hardman said.

“Touch wood for me, my concussion history, there’s not much there at all. You go off what the experts say and then you be truthful with everything. And that’s all you can do. 

“At the same time, this is our life. This is what we choose to do. We love doing it. Whatever the experts or science say, I’m 30 years old right now and I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do in my life. I love what I do.”