Northampton Saints winger George North.
Head first

'He wasn't knocked out' - Northampton defend decision to allow George North to play on

Concerns over a head injury have been calmed by the club.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS COACH Jim Mallinder denied that George North was allowed to play on after being knocked out in Saturday’s Premiership defeat to Leicester Tigers.

Saints went down 19-11 to their local rivals at Welford Road, but North’s head injury overshadowed the result.

Contesting a bouncing ball with Leicester try-scorer Adam Thompstone, North was caught in mid-air by his opposite winger and tipped before landing on the turf on his side.

North’s head crashed towards the ground as he fell and the Wales international was left prone on the turf and was then taken off the field for a Head Injury Assessment, which he passed before returning to finish the game.

The 24-year-old missed five months of 2015 after a series of concussions within a similar timeframe, prompting concerns over this latest blow, but Mallinder was firm in claiming that the rules had been adhered to by his medical staff.

He told BT Sport: “If you get knocked out you can’t go back on, it’s one of those things. If you’re knocked out you don’t go for an assessment. So, no, he wasn’t knocked out. He went out, he was fine. The doctor was perfectly happy with him and we were happy for him to continue.”

North took to Twitter to explain that the issue was with his neck, not his head, while Northampton Saints also issued a statement following the game.

The statement read: “George was attended to by the Northampton Saints medical team rapidly after landing on his side following a challenge in the air by Adam Thompstone. George was communicating immediately with attending medics and complaining of neck pain.

“Significant neck injury was excluded on the field but on review of video footage pitch side, the team followed World Rugby protocols and used a Head Injury Assessment given the potential mechanism for head injury. George was fully assessed by the doctor and passed fit to return to play.”

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