Brown calls for review of concussion rule
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has called for the introduction of additional reserves on the interchange bench after his side was left decimated by concussions to three players in their 53-0 loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.
While in raptures about the quality of the Broncos' play and in particular the work of halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford, Brown said that by not having an 18th and 19th man available for concussions that remaining players are being put at risk.
Five-eighth Jarrod Mullen, hooker Tyler Randell and winger Nathan Ross were all forced from the field with concussion and failed to return to the field, forcing a massive reshuffle along with bigger minutes for the 14 fit players remaining.
"The NRL's got to address this concussion rule because if we're going to keep going down this path we've got to have more players," Brown said in his post-match press conference.
"We should have an 18th and 19th man because we're one club that goes to the letter of ruling people out and by ruling people out all we're doing is getting punished. So we're forced to leave young kids out on the field and it's unfair for their development.
"Obviously this concussion rule is not going to go away because of the legalities of it all but the NRL has got to allow you to carry 19 players.
"In the end that wasn't a good spectacle. It's no good for the Broncos and it's no good for our younger players who have got to stay on the field and play with injury all because we've brought a new rule into the game to protect players.
"So we're protecting players in one way but then we're punishing them because we're not letting other players come onto the field. I don't think we're going the right way about it at the moment."
Knights winger James McManus is sitting out the entire 2016 season due to his history of head knocks and Brown suggested that some clubs were manipulating the rule for their own benefit, whether by "shielding" players on the field who may be concussed or by feigning injury in order to receive a free interchange.
No Broncos players were placed on report for any of the head knocks suffered by Knights players on Saturday night but Brown is adamant that teams who have players suffer a concussion during a game are being unfairly punished.
"All the concussions that happened today, there was no foul play in it from the opposition but at the moment an opposition guy can get put on report, you can lose your player," Brown said. "The side that commits foul play gets a bonus in this competition the way the rules are structured at the moment.
"If we are going down this path they've got to look at it because we've had the James McManus incident at our club and I think we're actually one club that's following it to the actual 'T' and for that all we do is get punished for following the rules.
"There's a bit of a mockery being made of it at the minute in my opinion."
The 53-point hammering was the second worst loss in the Knights' history but Brown asked for leniency on his players given the circumstances, already without Kade Snowden, Robbie Rochow and Jeremy Smith going into the game.
"It would be really unfair of anyone to judge the team as a whole because obviously we had a lot of players who are young who are trying to learn how to play their own position, never mind having to play out of position due to the injuries we received," he said.
"They should get some good lessons out of it because they're playing a side who I believe if they stay fit and they are playing like they are now at the end of the year I think they'll be running around in the last weekend in September again."