Any player showing signs of concussion during today’s third and deciding Anglo-New Zealand Test will be forced to leave the field immediately, England medical officer Chris Brookes has warned.
But in the wake of conjecture over whether James Graham played on following a head knock last Saturday, Brookes has called on the Rugby League International Federation to urgently formulate a uniform concussion protocol for Test matches.
Brookes backed his staff for not bringing Graham from the field following his disallowed try at London Olympic Stadium, which saw his head collide heavily with the turf.
But he said the incident should not be seen as a sign that players on both teams at DW Stadium today had carte blanche to ignore head knocks which would be tightly policed in the NRL
"If a player suffers contact to the head and that player, as a result of that contact to the head, is disoriented, he will be removed from the field of play," Brookes told NRL.com.
"We need to establish, when we have international fixtures, (something) to make it clear to everybody that these rules apply and will be followed and it will be the same for both teams.
"This has been very good in terms of learning. We need absolute certainty about the rules in terms of concussion and head injury assessment."
Interestingly, it has emerged that one of the ways Canterbury’s Graham displayed his lucidity to England staff by eloquently sledging rival Adam Blair.
"My chief physiotherapist and my pitch-side doctor told me that when they got to James Graham, he got up by himself and that he was engaged in dialogue with one of the Kiwi players, Adam Blair," said Brookes
For Blair, it’s a return to the scene of the fiery and wet Wigan-Brisbane World Club Series clash on which his Broncos built their season.
"For me, it's fun playing in the rain – like you’re a kid," he said. "You can slide around. For us it’s going out there and playing some footy and enjoying ourselves."
Brookes wants sideline video assessment of possible concussions, which were introduced this year in the NRL, to be made available for internationals.
Both sides trained at the match venue on Friday, with England coach Steve McNamara refusing to confirm his new squad inclusions Jermaine McGillvary and Matty Smith would play.
Asked what Huddersfield winger McGillvary would bring to the team, McNamara said: "He’s tremendously hard to tackle.
"He can get the speed of the ruck going for you and his finishing close to the line has been impeccable all year.
“In these types of games, there have not been many long-range chances. It’s all been close range and very tough, attrition-type play."
McNamara also refused to comment on his future – his contract expires at fulltime today – and on whether his team would play for the draw if scores were tight towards the end.
In the event of a draw, England will retain the Baskerville Shield by virtue of Great Britain having won it in 2007.