Canes got it wrong - Mayhew
30 May 2006Â
By TOBY ROBSON and NZPA
Former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew has added weight to growing questions over the Hurricanes' decision not to take halfback Piri Weepu off during the Super 14 final.
Weepu was knocked out when his head hit a knee of Crusaders halfback Kevin Senio nine minutes into the Hurricanes' 19-12 loss in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Hurricanes doctor Ian Murphy and physiotherapist Glenn Muirhead allowed Weepu to play on despite the fact he was unconscious for some time. Weepu subsequently revealed he had no recollection of the match.
Mayhew, the All Blacks team doctor for 13 years before retiring from the national team in 2004, queried the Hurricanes' decision.
"Get the player off. Assume that his day is over and go on from there. Whether it's a test match or Super 14 final or a rugby league game," Mayhew, who is now with the New Zealand Warriors, said yesterday.
"I'm always surprised that a player who gets knocked out is deemed fit to play. Certainly you wonder how the attending doctors deem he was fit to carry on."
The Hurricanes remained tight-lipped on the incident yesterday refusing to say what tests Murphy or Muirhead had conducted on the field before coming to their decision.
But Mayhew said he would not feel comfortable making a diagnosis on the pitch.
"In some instances it could be safe when you're knocked out and you could make a full recovery and carry on," he said. "But how do you know it was safe to carry on? We worry when someone's knocked out, they're more vulnerable to another blow to the head."
The incident prompted the Brain Injury Association of New Zealand to release a statement yesterday saying it was "deeply disturbed" and "appalled" that Weepu was allowed to play on.
Executive director Harley Pope joined Mayhew in saying it had set a poor example for aspiring young players.
Veteran New Zealand and international amateur boxing referee Jack Plowman said Weepu's concussion would have been treated more seriously in the ring.
"All I can say is that as a referee if he had been in the boxing ring he would not have beaten the count of 10, so it would be pretty simple for us.
"But you could have counted to 30 and Weepu still would have been out. I'm not one to criticise, but I was very surprised when they got him up and let him play on."
Plowman said he had cringed when Weepu had been turned over.
"In boxing, fighters used to be turned over, but the protocol now is to remove the mouthguard, clear the airways, then wait for the doctor because the risk is the guy could have a neck injury."
Plowman said amateur boxers were automatically stood down from training or fighting for one month following a knock out or a RSCH (Referee Stopped Contest Head).
"I guess the era of professional rugby is a bit like pro boxing where they can get knocked out and be back the next week or sooner, that's what happens when there's big money at stake."
There was some empathy for the Hurricanes medicos from leading New Zealand neurosurgeon Agadha Wickremesekera, who said on-field tests could often be misleading.
"It can be tricky. If he was answering their questions appropriately the physio and doctor could assume that he was not too bad.
"You might ask 'where are you? What day is it?' and you might get all the appropriate answers because people can wake up quite well from concussion sometimes.
"I'm a sportsmen myself, so I can understand if you feel okay then you just carry on, and it's a difficult call to make in a big final."
However, Wickremesekera agreed Weepu was at greater risk after the knock and suggested there were further signs he was struggling during the match. "Every five or 10 minutes he did seem to stop for a breather, so maybe that's the time they should have realised and taken him off."
I think he should have come off, especially since he got knocked out he didnt look good for the next 10 minutes in the game.
but saying that he didnt play to bad after that, it was still a shock to see him still there at half time but oh well what can you do.