Queensland coach Wayne Bennett has given a snarling response to reported accusations from NSW surrounding Maroons rake Jake Friend.
Bennett on Tuesday hit out at reports the Blues had contacted the NRL demanding an explanation for why the Roosters star wasn’t taken from the field for a concussion test in State of Origin Game 2 in Sydney after he appeared to be on wobbly legs.
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The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week a Blues official said it “beggars belief” that Queensland failed to have Friend undergo a HIA assessment off the field after he was steamrolled by Blues forward Nathan Brown.
The NRL is reported to have looked into the incident and found a concussion assessment was not needed.
It comes after the NSWRL was issued a formal warning by the NRL after an investigation found Boyd Cordner should not have cleared concussion protocols when he returned to the field in the series opener despite suffering a head knock.
Cordner was eventually ruled out for the rest of the series as a result of repeated head injuries this season.
Bennett on Tuesday fired back at the suggestion the Maroons had mismanaged Friend’s health and wellbeing.
“Jake never had a head knock. That’s a fallacy,” Bennett said.
“He didn’t get knocked out, is that clear?
“I don’t care what NSW think … he didn’t get knocked out, OK?
“It didn’t upset me but the doctor’s not happy about it. It’s his integrity that’s been questioned here. Jake never had a head knock at any stage of the game, he had a shoulder from the week before and he hurt it again. There was no relevance to his head whatsoever.”
He described the moment Friend appeared to be in duress on the field as a shoulder injury.
“Jake never had a head knock at any stage of the game, he had a shoulder injury from the week before and he hurt it again in the game,” he said.
“It was of no relevance to his head whatsoever.”
Bennett on Tuesday confirmed Friend will start for the Maroons in the series decider at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
However, the Maroons have made a series of changes for Game 3 with star winger Xavier Coates ruled out with a groin injury.
The move is expected to see Brenko Lee make his Origin debut at centre and Edrick Lee to make his debut on the wing.
Souths fullback Corey Allan will also replace Valentine Holmes at fullback, seeing the Cowboys star move to the wing.
“Cameron (Munster) passed everything and we’re very satisfied with where he’s at,” Bennett said.
“We won’t know until this morning to see if he (Xavier Coates) can train. He’s 50/50 at the moment.
“Edrick Lee will come in.”
“We’ll get (Brenko Lee) through training today, we’re confident we’ll do that. He was good on Sunday, so pretty confident he’ll play.”
“Corey Allan fullback. (Kurt Capewell) will start on the left edge.”