12 Feb 2015

NZ Rugby doctor calls for more concussion support

11:05 am on 12 February 2015

New Zealand Rugby's medical director says teams could offer more support to match doctors when a player suffers a head injury during a game.

The Highlanders' Buxton Popoalii suffers a head injury during a Super Rugby match.

The Highlanders' Buxton Popoalii suffers a head injury during a Super Rugby match. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It comes after World Rugby, the sport's governing body, said the Wales wing George North should not have continued playing after his head injury in last Saturday's Six Nations opener against England in Cardiff.

Dr Ian Murphy said New Zealand had robust concussion procedures, but there was always room for improvement.

"Teams might at times, in the heat of the battle, things are close - they may make a decision that is not necessarily the best decision they could have made," he said.

"So to protect the player, who is the central figure here, I think we can further support match doctors to make decisions that are sometimes difficult to make."

"It is sometimes a very brave call or difficult call to bring a team's superstar player off the field on suspicion of a concussion."

Dr Ian Murphy said rugby players were becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of head injuries.

Meanwhile, North has been left out of the Wales team's next game against Scotland.

North took an accidental boot to the head from England lock Dave Attwood in the first half of their Six Nations match, and he was temporarily replaced by Liam Williams while he underwent a mandatory concussion assessment.

The Wales wing George North in action.

The Wales wing George North in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 22-year-old subsequently returned to the field, but he then clashed heads with teammate Richard Hibbard during the second half in what appeared to be the worst of the two incidents.

North did not go off a second time, playing on as England went on to claim a 21-16 victory.

In a statement, World Rugby, the sport's governing body, said North should not have continued playing after his head injury.

The Welsh Rugby Union said North would be allowed some time to recover.

"North is currently symptom free and whilst nearing the conclusion of the graduated return to play protocol, the decision has been taken to allow him an elongated recovery period in light of his recent concussive episode in the autumn period," it said.

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