The NRL's bunker doctor, implemented during the off-season, has continued to come under fire as Newcastle Knights lock Kurt Mann was questionably removed from the field for an assessment during a crucial point in their slugfest against the Penrith Panthers.
Mann, who's been one of Newcastle's best players in this young and surprising season, was removed from the field 26 minutes into the contest after he appeared stunned, leaning over and swaying his head after a tackle on Penrith's Scott Sorensen.
Walking from the field in bewilderment, a scene we're becoming far too familiar with when it comes to the bunker doctor's determinations, Mann was questioning the decision from the officials stating the real cause of his reaction to the tackle.
Upon further assessment, it was revealed that Sorensen had flung his leg into Mann's crotch as he was getting driven into the ground.
Kurt Mann ordered from the field for a HIA by the concussion bunker after rising slowly after a tackle. Thankfully I’m optimistic he has avoided concussion. Still one of the most painful injuries & an injury type that would probably benefit from 15 minutes off the field pic.twitter.com/wDAiPI8cJv
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) March 26, 2022
Valuable minutes in a top of the table clash, the Panthers would go on to score eight unanswered points during Mann's time on the sideline.
After the initial confusion sparked by the rule in Round 1, NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley acknowledged the "clunky" nature with which the bunker communicated these decisions but assured teams and fans that improvements were going to be made.
“It maybe was a bit clunky… but we’ve been meeting this morning, we’ve been talking about those processes (role of Bunker doctor) and we’ve been looking at how we can tweak them to make them more seamless,” Annesley said at his weekly football briefing.
“There is a new rule tweak for the NRL. Kurt Mann has been hit in a spot that no-one wants to be hit. We want to get accurate decisions in our game. When there is a physical assessment needed to determine if it is a HIA or not, the person making that decision is in a bunker watching it off the screen," Cronk said.
“Now, he has been hit somewhere you don’t want to be hit, but he has not had a HIA. We’ve heard Jake Duke say there was never a concussion incident at all. Yet, he has been removed by someone sitting in a bunker. That is a bad call.
“Simple solution. Bring them onto the field.”