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Queensland's Cameron Munster has questioned why NSW forward Isaah Yeo was allowed to stay on the field after a brutal incident in the opening seconds of the State of Origin opener.
Yeo's Blues went down 16-10 to Queensland in Game One of the series at Sydney's Accor Stadium on Wednesday night, with the Panthers forward rocked in the first tackle of the game.
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The NSW lock came off second best after a heavy collision in a tackle on Maroons prop Josh Papalii, with Yeo stumbling back to his feet after being sent flying to the turf.
Yeo's head appeared to make contact with Josh Papalii in the first hit-up of the series, before he fell backwards and lost his balance in retreating back to the defensive line.
He was also assisted by Blues teammate Tariq Sims as he regathered stable footing, before resuming his place in the NSW line.
Re the Isaah Yeo potential HIA, a few angles here. Was designated as a Category 3 incident by the Docs/bunker, which indicates they haven’t seen clear symptoms on video to require a HIA/rule Yeo out (Cat 1/2) but was enough to warrant a check by the on-field trainer. pic.twitter.com/WscLCEfhgT
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) June 8, 2022
The league's independent doctor classed the symptoms as a category three, allowing Yeo to stay on after only requiring an on-field check.
Yeo insisted after the match he was not concussed, and that he had merely lost his balance on the slippery surface as he got up.
The NRL were reviewing the process on Thursday morning, but noted that Yeo had passed concussion checks on field, at halftime and after fulltime.
Regardless, NSW coaching director Greg Alexander admitted on Thursday morning he immediately thought Yeo should have been removed, and that the hit had clearly affected his game - coming off before halftime and totalling only 53 minutes.
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Munster also shared similar concerns with Alexander and said it was a bad look for the game, considering how strict the concussion guidelines have been enforced in the NRL.
"It wasn't rocket science, you could see he wasn't well," Munster said.
"It makes me sick (to see it) but someone's got to put their hand up and take responsibility for it, cause it's not on.
"We've been speaking about it for years and years about the welfare of our players and our heads.
"You want to showcase that in the biggest game of the year."
Under the NRL's protocols, possible head knocks are spotted before an independent doctor in the bunker pores over replays from different angles.
Motor incoordination, such as balance disturbance and clumsiness, are considered as indicators that require a player to be checked.
NSW doctors were not shown replays of Yeo staggering back on the sideline, as the broadcast stayed with the play.
Had Yeo's incident been labelled a category one, he would have been ruled out of the match immediately, while a category two requires a 15-minute off-field test.
Viewers were baffled by the fact Yeo was allowed to stay on the field, with many insisting that if had happened in the NRL, he would have been taken off for a check immediately.
Man-of-the-match Munster complained Yeo's incident was no different to his in Game II of 2020, after his head hit the turf in the second minute and he could not return as a category one.
"I know it's an Origin game ... but someone's got to take a stand," Munster said.
"I didn't want to go off (in 2020), I passed all my HIAs and everything. But because I stumbled and wasn't right, they pulled me."
Yeo has a history with concussions, and was insistent after the Blues' 16-10 loss that he was not suffering side-effects of a head knock following the tackle.
"I felt fine," he said.
"I remember everything, I've been knocked out and it definitely wasn't that. I just lost a bit of balance.
"(It was) just the contact, I reeled out of it and I was just trying to get my footing to get back in the line."
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