Dyldam Parramatta Eels prop Richie Fa’aoso was an early example of the new NRL concussion guidelines in action on Sunday afternoon, as he made his long awaited First Grade comeback from a broken neck sustained in 2013.
The Eels medical staff removed Fa’aoso from the field after just five minutes on the field after showing signs of ataxia, stumbling after completing a tackle on Newcastle's Jack Stockwell.
Speaking to the media after the game, Head Coach Brad Arthur praised Fa’aoso’s attitude.
“He’s alright,” Arthur said.
“He’s probably just disappointed, he felt like he let the boys down.”
“But that’s the type of person he is, he’s all about the team.”
The application of the new NRL concussion rule was a disappointing moment in Fa’aoso’s otherwise miraculous return to the field.
“It’s a credit to Richie, he’s had his boots laced up a couple of times thinking he was ready to go and we’ve had to pull to rug out from under him, but he hasn’t dropped his head or been a distraction to the players,” Arthur said of the forward earlier in the week.
“He’s been very positive and everything he’s done has been about the team.”
Eels hooker Nathan Peats was hopeful the forward would be given another opportunity in First Grade in the near future.
“[He was] a bit unlucky in his first game back,” Peats told the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday.
“Thankfully it wasn’t his neck or anything. It’s just an unlucky thing I guess, he got his head in the wrong position there in that contact.”
“Sometimes you’re not even getting your head in the wrong position, you just end up copping the shoulder by accident.”
“He probably didn’t do himself any favours by getting up and trying to run, he fell over a couple of times. That’s just the competitor he is. He just wants to get up and do that for his side.”
“Hopefully he gets another crack next week.”
The Eels will play the Brisbane Broncos at 8pm, Saturday 25 April at Suncorp Stadium.