Mason calls for more concussion action
Veteran Manly prop Willie Mason would like the NRL to be even more stringent on concussions, comparing the situation to the mandatory three-month fight ban for boxers who are knocked out.
Mason was surprised South Sydney back-rower Kyle Turner had been named to face Manly this week after being knocked out in his comeback from neck surgery last week against Penrith, noting his teammate Steve Matai had been forced to sit out last week's win against Brisbane due to having been concussed a week earlier in New Zealand.
"The [concussion] protocol's there, but if you get knocked out in boxing you've got a mandatory three months out," Mason told journalists on Wednesday.
"Steve Matai two weeks ago [against the Warriors] was out cold and he couldn't pass the test last week, now this week he's fine. You've got all these brain surgeons out there saying professional boxers aren't allowed to box for three months with a trauma to the brain like that yet we can just go out and play probably one of the most ferocious physical games in the world."
Mason would like the NRL to take "a much harder look" at any players in the situation of Matai last week or Turner this week.
However he accepted if Turner took the field it would be because he had passed all the necessary tests and was deemed fit to play.
Mason also waded into the shoulder charge debate following a big hit from Rooster Kane Evans on Bulldog Sam Kasiano last Friday which resulted in a penalty but no judiciary charge.
The fact no part of Evans came into contact with Kasiano's head, and it was deemed the Bulldogs prop did not experience any whiplash effect, meant Evans got off with an on-field penalty and off-field "concerning act" notice from the judiciary, but no formal charge.
"It needs to be black and white with players," Mason insisted.
"I think someone was tossing up as long as there's no whiplash and all this kind of stuff – if you hit someone decent they're going to get that. It needs to be black and white with players.
"If you make contact with the chest and there's no whiplash it's deemed not to be a shoulder charge, that's just ridiculous. If you hit someone that hard there's going to be some whiplash.
"The Kane Evans thing and the hit on big Kasiano, everyone got really excited because it looked like the old sort of rugby league, everyone jumped out of their seats, Twitter was going nuts, everyone was going crazy, everyone was like 'bring it back' all this kind of stuff but if that had have slipped up a couple of inches it would have hit him on the chin and knocked him out cold and everyone would be saying 'that's why the shoulder charge is banned'."
Mason said he is still a fan of the shoulder charge despite the potential for it to go wrong.
"I'm all for the shoulder charge but I've seen some players get knocked out cold – it is a millisecond of getting hit in the head, it's something you've got to time to perfection. Kane Evans put a brilliant hit on but we can't just go out and say 'that's ok' but then next week someone else tries it, hits a bloke straight in the mouth and breaks his jaw we're all sitting here talking about something else and a kid's out for six weeks because someone wants to come flying out of the line and put a shoulder charge on. That's the reason why we've banned it."