Concussion back into spotlight after St George Illawarra Dragons' controversial 16-10 win over Cronulla Sharks

Down: Dragons fullback Josh Dugan holds his face. Picture: John Veage
Down: Dragons fullback Josh Dugan holds his face. Picture: John Veage


St George Illawarra have responded to the NRL’s breach notice saying they are yet to be formally advised of a breach.

The Dragons says they are yet to receive details of a breach notice from the NRL relating to an incident involving fullback Josh Dugan and the management of a concussion during their win over Cronulla.

“The Dragons have the upmost respect for player safety and fully support the NRL’s rules and processes in relation to concussion, as our track record would support,” the statement said.

“Equally, the Dragons support the integrity of our medical staff in their decisions and delivery of the NRL's procedures and policies.

“The club will await the formal breach notice details and will make no further comment until this process is complete.”


St George Illawarra are facing a $100,000 fine for their handling of an incident involving Josh Dugan in their 16-10 win over Cronulla on Sunday night.

Dugan appeared to be knocked senseless after being hit with an accidental elbow from teammate Russell Packer as the pair attempted to tackle Sharks captain Paul Gallen in the ninth minute.

The Dragons fullback fell and lay face down on the ground before receiving treatment from trainers. Dugan was allowed to stay on the ground despite appearing concussed, and was not sent from the field to receive a concussion test. 

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said there is no more important issue in the game than player safety and he was satisfied that the Dragons, as well as the Gold Coast Titans and Newcastle Knights, had failed to follow the concussion rules during weekend matches.

“These are, by far, the heaviest fines ever proposed by the game for concussion breaches,” Greenberg said.

Sharks back-rower Wade Graham is assisted from the ground for a concussion test. Picture: John Veage

Sharks back-rower Wade Graham is assisted from the ground for a concussion test. Picture: John Veage

“That is how seriously we take it.

“The clubs involved have the opportunity to respond to the breach notices and we will consider those responses. But our message is clear… we are not going to allow player safety to be put at risk through breaches of the concussion rules.”

Greenberg said the NRL had put significant resources into concussion training and education.

“In the majority of cases we see strong compliance with the league’s concussion rules but it appears that this did not happen at the weekend in some matches and we cannot stand by and allow player safety to be put at risk,” he said.

“Where we believe the rules have been breached we will take action and we would hope that these breach notices will serve as a warning to all clubs.”

Mr Greenberg said the clubs would have five business days to respond to the breach notices.

Gold Coast Titans are looking at a $150,000 fine for incidents involving Kane Elgey, Joe Greenwood and Ryan Simpkins while the Knights could be fined $100,000 for an incident involving Brendan Elliot.

Cronulla had their own issues with concussion in the derby defeat, with Wade Graham forced from the field for a concussion test after 17 minutes.

The representative back-rower passed the assessment but was forced off again midway through the second half after reporting feeling unwell. Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said Graham would be monitored during the week.


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