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Super 14 2006
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News Story

Weepu should have come off says ex-All Blacks doctor
29 May 2006  

Leading New Zealand sports doctor John Mayhew says Hurricanes halfback Piri Weepu should have been immediately pulled from the field after being knocked out in Saturday's Super 14 rugby final.  
Weepu was pole-axed nine minutes into the 12-19 loss in Christchurch after attempting a tackle on his Crusaders counterpart Kevin Senio.  
Weepu's head connected with Senio's knee and he was left unconscious lying prone on the ground.  
But subsequent onfield tests by the Hurricanes medical team of doctor Ian Murphy and physiotherapist Glen Muirhead saw a groggy Weepu play on until the 70th minute.  
Mayhew, the All Blacks team doctor for 13 years before retiring from the national team in 2004, queried the decision to leave Weepu on the field.  
"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 told NZPA.  
"I'm always surprised that a player who get's knocked out is deemed fit to play.  
"Certainly you wonder how the attending doctors deem he was fit to carry on.  
"Any player who got knocked out in a game I was involved with, I'd take him off the field."  
Mayhew, medic for the All Blacks at 131 tests and more than 200 matches, said he would not feel confident about diagnosing a player's fitness immediately after an incident.  
"In some instances it could be safe when you're knocked out and you could make a full recovery and carry on," said Mayhew who was the current doctor for the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team.  
"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."  
Weepu admitted on Sunday that he did not remember anything of the previous night's game.  
He was named yesterday in the All Blacks side to face Argentina on June 24, but coach Graham Henry would not comment on whether it was wise to leave Weepu on the field.  
Requests by NZPA to speak to Murphy were declined today by the Wellington Rugby Union.  
A union spokesman said medical staff were not allowed to speak to the media without clearance.  
It was not known whether that clearance would be granted.  
Another medical specialist spoken to by NZPA said it was exceptionally dangerous to carry on playing when a someone had received a serious head knock.  
There was the danger of suffering a brain haemorrhage and it was prudent to have a player placed under observation.  
Mayhew, who saw replays of Weepu's knock, said a player could not be properly assessed on the field.  
"You do subsequent tests off the field. Check the neck, make sure there are no other injuries," he said.  
"You assume quite correctly that he's been concussed and you manage him that way, then do the appropriate neurological assessment and computer based testing which the new Zealand Rugby Union do for their players.  
"I'd be concerned we're giving a bad message to other rugby players, that it's ok for these (professional) players to carry on playing after being knocked out."  

London: 04.15 hrs Saturday 25th Nov
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