Brad Fittler blasts NRL over 'poor' punishment for Jai Arrow

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
NSW coach Brad Fittler (pictured left) during a game and Jai Arrow (pictured right) shoving James Tedesco back into the turf.
NSW coach Brad Fittler (pictured left) has hit out at the NRL for a 'poor' punishment on Maroons forward Jai Arrow (pictured right) after he shoved James Tedesco back into the turf. (Images: Getty Images/Channel Nine)

Brad Fittler slammed the NRL's response to Jai Arrow's treatment of a concussed James Tedesco as "poor", saying the Queensland forward should have been dealt a harsher punishment.

The NSW coach doubled down on his post-match comments that Arrow was "disrespectful' when he picked up and dropped the concussed Tedesco during Wednesday night's loss to the Maroons.

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On Thursday morning the NRL's match review committee handed Arrow a grade one contrary conduct charge, which equates to a $550 fine if he takes the early plea.

But the punishment was light according to Fittler, who said the NRL missed the chance to make a strong statement on concussion.

"Without a doubt it's something that we're very conscious of, concussion, and the game is doing everything they can do to look into it," he said.

"Everyone is under pressure there, doctors, players, staff.

"I think the way the league dealt with it is quite poor.

"A $550 fine.. with such a big audience it was very ordinary.

"Jai has to live with those actions.

"I'm sure he'll have comments about why he did it and what he was thinking at the time but it was a poor choice from Jai.

"But a $550 fine, more needed to be said or done than that."

Tedesco was knocked out when his head hit the knee of Josh Papalii, with Arrow then picking up his body and throwing him back to the ground while he lay motionless on the turf.

The moment sparked outrage and Arrow has since apologised for his actions, saying he didn't realise Tedesco was concussed.

Arrow didn’t realise Tedesco was injured

Arrow said once he did realise how injured the fullback was he signalled for medical help for the prone NSW star.

"Jai's got to live with it. He did it, he was knocked out and they're scenes that will be shown for a long time," Fittler said on Thursday.

"That's a reality of what happened."

But as for what punishment Arrow should face instead of a fine, Fittler said he was not sure.

James Tedesco is seen after he collided with an opponent during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on November 18, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia.
James Tedesco is seen after he collided with an opponent during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on November 18, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"That's up to them. I just feel given the sensitivity around the issue it deserved more attention," he said.

Fittler said Tedesco was fine on Thursday but for a sore head, but five-eighth Cody Walker was not as lucky.

Walker was concussed later in the match and became the fifth player across the series to cop a serious head knock.

Queenslanders Christian Welch and Cameron Munster as well as Blues skipper Boyd Cordner also suffered head knocked across the past three weeks.

"Cody is pretty crook, he was a bit disorientated last night and a rest will be the best thing for him," Fittler said.

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