Hunt sympathises with Penrith on call
Broncos hooker Ben Hunt believes play could have continued after Corey Oates was knocked unconscious midway through the first half of Brisbane's 13-6 semi-final win over the Penrith Panthers.
With ball in hand and the Broncos leading 6-0, Oates collided with teammate Anthony Milford's shoulder and fell to the ground in sickening scenes.
In the process, Oates dropped the ball and the Panthers quickly picked it up, launching a counter attack down the Broncos' left edge.
Referee Gerard Sutton then stopped play just as it looked like a try could have come from Penrith's quick thinking and it was that call which has caused much debate within rugby league circles.
To put it simply, Sutton was focused on the welfare of Oates who was soon stretchered off the ground and unable to return to the field.
The NRL backed Sutton's decision after the match, saying that play could be stopped immediately in circumstances such as Oates's where the ball was sitting between two players who looked to be in a lot of trouble.
Hunt, who was near Oates at the time of impact, was happy with the decision but said he would have understood if play continued due to the fact Penrith were running in the opposite direction from the incident.
"It's a tough one. I think in that instance against Penrith it probably should have been play on. Play was going away from where he was," Hunt said.
"If it's around where someone is knocked out and the players are coming towards you then obviously they need to stop it because someone is in danger.
"It's definitely a tough one. I can see why the referees pulled it up straight away. You could tell he was in a bad place and they just wanted to help him, but at the same time if I was Penrith I would have been pretty upset about that."
In the end Brisbane won the match by seven points, a result Oates does not remember after waking up in the change rooms wondering how he arrived there.
The head knock was so bad that Oates may not play this week against the Melbourne Storm in Friday night's preliminary final. David Mead is on standby to play if Oates is not deemed unfit.
Hunt and his teammates are hopeful Oates will recover in time but they understand his health ultimately comes first.
"He's always got something going on injury wise," Hunt joked.
"I definitely know one thing and that's that he will always do what's best for the team.
"He seems to be getting around training and throwing chat at everyone now so he must be getting back to his usual self."