Rugby League fans have questioned why the game wasn't stopped after Blues player Isabelle Kelly went down clutching her throat and struggling to breathe in distressing scenes during Queensland's 18-10 State of Origin win. The Maroons will be favourite to retain the series against the Blues having defeated the depleted team in Sydney on Thursday night in a fiery Game I clash.
However, the match was marred after Kelly went down in the 36th minute clutching her throat in distressing scenes. Kelly went in for a tackle, but copped an elbow to the throat from Jillaroos teammate Julia Robinson.
'REALLY POOR': Nicho Hynes image sparks furious Blues backlash
'EMBARRASSING': James Tedesco called out after NSW Origin horror show
While it appeared innocuous, Kelly didn't emerge from the tackle and instead crawled to the side clutching at her throat. In what was described as 'distressing' scenes, Kelly then appeared to be in a bad way as she struggled to breathe with Maroons players concerned for her welfare.
Trainers ran on to help Kelly, but play continued. The Maroons ended up scoring not long after through Tazmin Gray.
This caused uproar with viewers concerned over Kelly's wellbeing. Many fans were outraged the game wasn't stopped immediately when Kelly was clearly in distress right after the tackle.
Play should have been stopped.
— troy worner (@troypod78) June 1, 2023
Absolutely disgraceful. Outcome from the play is irrelevant but disgusting they allowed play to continue
— Michael Roberts (@Michael24869683) June 1, 2023
Kelly looked like she couldn’t breathe. I’m livid that the ref didn’t stop play at all.
— Chloe Jones (@FinalGirlChloe) June 1, 2023
Worth mentioning that NSW were a player down at the time with two trainers attending to Isabelle Kelly who was in real distress. Yes, not in the area of play, but awful.
— Christine (@_stenie) June 1, 2023
Saying the same thing here. That was shocking.
— Deirdre Berry (@deirdre_berry) June 1, 2023
Man that’s scary with Isabelle Kelly holding her throat like that. She looked like she was choking or couldn’t breathe. Something had happened to her throat. #stateoforigin
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) June 1, 2023
A player lost his shoe and play was frozen..seriously!!! Isabelle Kelly needed attention
— Masheth of Miki (@MikiCee83) June 1, 2023
why didn’t the ref stop the play when isabelle kelly had copped an elbow to the throat and was on the ground visibly struggling to breathe??🤨
— shakira ✿ (@511AK1RA) June 1, 2023
“A bit of drama with Isabelle Kelly going off with what looked a pretty nasty injury,” Lara Pitt said on Fox Sports at half-time. Nine reporter Emma Lawrence later claimed Kelly was in a bad way.
"She was coughing up blood and really struggling to breathe, so she's actually been taken to hospital as a precaution," she said on Nine's coverage. " She's in hospital. She's not great. There are concerns around her throat," Lawrence added in her post-match interview.
On Friday morning, Kelly provided an update for her fans after plenty of well wishes. The Aussie national admitted it had been a 'scary' few hours, but she was recovering and would leave hospital in the next 24 hours.
"Feeling very overwhelmed with all love I have received, thank you to all who have contact myself or my family. Still in ICU at hospital surrounded by the most amazing staff at Westmead, been. a scary 12 hours but hopefully head home tomorrow," she wrote.
Update from Isabelle Kelly - still in ICU with her throat injury but hoping to be discharged from hospital tomorrow. Was extremely concerning scenes last night with her struggling to breathe and coughing up blood. Thoughts and best wishes with her pic.twitter.com/oKjFyyOeXA
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) June 2, 2023
Julia Robinson concerned over Isabelle Kelly
After the Maroons' win, Robinson said there was no intention to hurt her Jillaroos teammate. "We're not out there to hurt people," she told ABC Sport after the match.
"I love Izzy (Kelly), so obviously I felt terrible that she went down ... I hope she's okay now." Despite no intention involved, Blues coach Kylie Hilder blasted the incident and asked why there was no action taken.
"It's a big concern for me when we've got a player on the ground and actually in discomfort and not in a great way, and she was struggling to breathe, so it's a very big concern," she said in her post-match press conference. "I still don't understand why there wasn't even a penalty for that, she was hit in the throat."
The coach added that the players needed to be rallied after their was concern for Kelly leaving the ground. " They were. Especially because a lot was going on in the sheds - the ambulance came in for Izzy [and] she was in a lot of discomfort so there was a fair bit of noise as well," Hilder added.
" We had to rally the girls and just let them know that we had a half to get out there and get on with it."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.