Sydney Roosters captain Boyd Cordner has been taken off the field after suffering a head knock during Saturday’s NRL match against the Newcastle Knights.
Before the round 18 clash kicked off at the SCG, players and spectators paid tribute to rugby league player Joel Dark, who passed away this week.
Dark suffered a severe head injury while he was making his first grade debut for Newcastle Central at St John Oval last weekend and was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery.
The NSWRL and John Hunter Hospital both confirmed the 19-year-old — who is also Cordner’s cousin — had died on Friday morning.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Earlier this week, Cordner was given permission to leave the club’s biosecurity bubble to be with his cousin and family as Dark fought for his life.
NRL LIVE SCORES: Round 18 match centres
Cordner was visibly emotional during Saturday evening’s moment of reflection, the Australian representative fighting back tears.
The ground announcer said: “The Sydney Roosters and the Newcastle Knights wish to extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Joel during this very sad time.”
Some viewers were unimpressed the camera remained on Cordner for the entirety of the minute’s silence. Australian actor Cam Welsh tweeted: “That was hard to watch. Did the camera have to be on Cordner the whole time? Feels exploitative.
“Grief for entertainment = yuck.”
Sydney Morning Herald journalist Christian Nicolussi posted: “They don’t come emotionally tougher than Sydney Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner. Nor more selfless. Could have easily scored opener then. Game lucky to have this bloke.”
Three minutes after kick-off, Cordner set up a try for teammate Josh Morris, who scored on the left wing to give Sydney an early advantage.
The Roosters mustered another three tries in quick succession to take a 24-0 lead after just 20 minutes of play.
However, as Cordner attempted a fifth try in the 24th minute, the 28-year-old knocked his head on the turf, and immediately rolled onto his side, grimacing in pain.
Cordner had only recently returned from a six-week absence due to concussion, so his teammates were understandably concerned.
Penrith Panthers great Greg Alexander muttered on Fox League commentary: “His head’s hit the ground pretty hard.”
Two minutes later, the New South Wales Blues captain was taken off the field by medics for a concussion test.
Sideline reporter Matt Russell said on Fox League: “The fact that he has picked up another one after six weeks out is significant.
“He tried to return but they said, ‘No, don’t return, let’s err on the side of caution.’
“We’ve seen them tread very carefully with Luke Keary in recent times. Even James Tedesco when he was steamrolled by Maika Sivo, was told to sit out an extra week.
“They take a really commendable approach, taking caution first that is what they are doing with Boyd Cordner.
“Don’t jump to any conclusions that he is going to miss too many games or finals. We’re doing at this stage it is just erring on the side of caution.”
Former Wallaby and veteran journalist Peter FitzSimons tweeted: “Bloody hell. Boyd Cordner, with a recent history of concussion problem, face plants with shocking force and is clearly stunned, not moving for fifteen seconds or so. The trainer comes on, asks a few questions, lifts a couple of fingers, and he continues. HIA only two mins later.”
READ MORE: Brisbane Broncos’ 32-year low
READ MORE: Mum’s tears after ‘goosebumps’ moment
Cordner remained on the sidelines for the remainder of the match, and the defending champions went on to comfortably win 42-12. Roosters playmaker Luke Keary and winger Daniel Tupou each scored a double, while Enari Tuala and Gehamat Shibasaki were the only tryscorers for the Knights.
Daily Mirror reporter Gareth Walker tweeted: “A supremely well organised yet enterprising and entertaining team, Sydney Roosters remain an absolute credit to Trent Robinson’s work. Sonny Bill showing plenty of flashes of the old brilliance as well. The NRL play-offs should be immense.”
Cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams warned the Roosters have the capacity to improve over the coming weeks.
“Tonight I think our completion rate was a little bit down, but in saying that we’re happy where we are and just got to keep working on that,” Williams told Fox League after the final siren.
“The more we can flow, the more we can work on our combos.”
With their 13th victory of the season, Sydney climb to third spot on the NRL, while Newcastle remain in seventh.
Next weekend, the Roosters will take on the Cronulla Sharks at the SCG, while the Knights will face the St George Illawarra Dragons in Newcastle.