Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent, NRL.com
The Wests Tigers are set to appeal their $20,000 fine after being the second club to be found in breach of the NRL's new concussion laws for an incident involving forward Liam Fulton in Round 5.
The NRL announced on Wednesday that it would fine the club $10,000 – the other $10,000 was suspended – for allowing Fulton to play on during the Tigers' clash against Manly at Leichhardt Oval despite showing signs of concussion.
Coach Mick Potter went on the front foot on Thursday, defending his club's medical staff and revealing that they even had a doctor referred by the NRL clearing Fulton to play against the Sea Eagles that week.
"We had the NRL referral to a specialist to make sure that he's okay, and we got the all clear. I think we've done everything right there. I think what's happened is harsh, but we'll go through the procedures," Potter said on Thursday.
While the referral was obviously separate to the incident during the game, Potter believed his staff acted within the guidelines of the new laws and said they were looking at appealing.
"[CEO Grant] Mayer is looking at it. I think we've got a good case. Our medical staff did everything possible and the right thing on the day," he said.
"I thought he was okay, as did our medical staff. I don't think there was any question, really. I was shocked [at the fine], even that there was an investigation into it."
Fulton suffered concussion in Round 1 and Round 3 and was rested the following week on both occasions. But the under-sized forward again showed signs of a head knock in Round 5 after attempting a tackle on Peta Hiku. Having been checked by a trainer, he was cleared to play on.
The Tigers' fine came on the same day the NRL altered its concussion rules that placed greater onus on clubs to identify any player showing signs of concussion.
The Bulldogs, who were the first club to breach concussion guidelines earlier in the year, yesterday escaped punishment for another incident involving James Graham in Round 4 because neither the head trainer nor club doctor saw what had happened.
Yesterday's changes mean that any player displaying concussion symptoms must now be looked at.
"In other words, we are putting greater onus on the clubs to ensure they identify any player exhibiting signs of concussion and take them from the field immediately," NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said in a statement.
"To help them do this, club trainers – who have restricted duties – will be required to help identify players who may have concussion and remove that player from the field for assessment by the club doctor.
"It will no longer be an excuse for clubs to say that the club doctor and trainer did not observe any concussion signs – it's the club's responsibility to do so."