Luke Keary leaps to defence of NRL independent doctors
Sydney Roosters star Luke Keary has thrown his support behind the controversial practice of independent doctors being in the NRL Bunker, claiming players cannot be trusted when concussed.
The issue is the hottest in the game after a chorus of coaches, led by heavyweights Ricky Stuart and Wayne Bennett, criticised the independent doctor for being overly conservative in ordering players off for head injury assessments (HIAs) during last week's opening round of matches.
Canterbury's Cameron Ciraldo and Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien also voiced their concerns, while Phil Gould on Monday night declared last year's introduction of an independent doctor "the greatest abomination perpetrated on our game in history".
But Keary, one of the most concussion-prone players in the NRL, totally disagrees and says his peers also privately appreciate having the big brother-like figure watching over them.
Independent doctors monitor a multitude of TV angles for signs of concussion and can inform the on-field referee to halt play and send a player off for an HIA.
The system allows club doctors to tend to injured players while ensuring no potential concussions go unsighted.
"It's definitely the way to go. It takes it away from clubs," Keary said on Tuesday.
"There's a designated doctor sitting there just watching that. As much as it's frustrating sometimes if they might have got it wrong, as a player we appreciate it.
"Even if we don't all say it, we all appreciate it that someone is actually sitting there looking out for us.
"It's hard sometimes. Some of them are very hard to judge. They're going to get some wrong.
"But our docs are in the dressing rooms with people doing the concussion protocols to get back on, they're looking at other stuff and there's a lot of things going on at the actual ground so it's good.
"Even to spot one, a trainer's got to spot one. It's very hard to do in the game.
"So having someone external away watching it, it's the right way to go."
Stuart on Saturday accused the NRL of not trusting clubs to make the right call but Keary believes it is the players who can't be trusted.
"Sometimes when you get hit, you're not even awake at the time," he said.
"As a player, you don't want to go off the field. That's the mentality.
"We get a knock, we don't want to go off the field. We're not going to just stick our hand up and say, 'I've had a knock, take me off the field'.
"Someone's going to have to drag you off. You see it all the time with players who are knocked out.
"So I don't know about, 'Can the NRL trust coaches or trust the coach and the clubs?'. I don't know.
"Can you trust the players? Probably not."