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Northampton admit that George North 'probably was' concussed last weekend

The Premiership club are waiting to learn whether they will be punished for their treatment of the incident.

Murray Kinsella reports from Northampton

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS HAVE admitted that George North “probably was” concussed in last weekend’s Premiership clash with Leicester, when the Wales wing was allowed to return to the field of play after passing a Head Injury Assessment.

The incident has caused major controversy in the past week, with the Saints continuing to be criticised for their actions.

Northampton Saints v Montpellier - European Champions Cup - Pool Four - Franklin's Gardens North will be out for several weeks after his latest concussion. Source: David Davies

North appeared to lose consciousness after his head collided with the ground following a tackle in the air by Leicester’s Adam Thompstone.

The Saints wing was pictured lying motionless on the turf, but he was removed from the game for a HIA and returned several minutes later, sparking widespread outrage from pundits and supporters alike.

Northampton insisted that they had taken all precautions with the player, while North himself tweeted that he had been concerned about his neck, rather than his head.

The Saints subsequently released a statement earlier this week suggesting that their medical team had not had access to all camera angles of the incident, and that North would have been removed permanently had they had that access.

That did little to placate the concern around the incident, however, with Premiership Rugby and the RFU forming a Concussion Management Review Group to review the incident.

A report from that group is excepted in the coming days, and last night saw Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder admit that, in hindsight, North “probably was” concussed.

“At the time of the incident, our medics from the views that they could see and speaking to George, they believed George was not concussed,” said Mallinder after his side’s 37-10 defeat to Leinster last night.

“On reviewing the other views, after the incident, they recognised that he was or probably was [concussed], and therefore would have probably done things differently.”

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North was stood down for last night’s clash with Leinster and now faces a period of several weeks on the sidelines after a consultation with an independent specialist.

Jim Mallinder Mallinder is under major pressure. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s been to see the specialist,” said Mallinder. “He’s been fine all week, he was fine actually as soon as the incident occurred. We said before, he was talking as soon as the physio got to him, he was fine… there wasn’t an issue.

“He has had no symptoms of concussion. The specialist is happy that he is symptom-free. But, as advised, he will take a couple of weeks recovery. The independent specialist has suggested that.”

Mallinder and Northampton are enduring a hugely difficult time at present, although there will be little sympathy from the outside over their treatment of the North incident and after the vicious red-card offence from England captain Dylan Hartley last night.

Saints now await the verdict of the Concussion Management Review Group to learn whether or not the club will be punished.

The review, they’ll want to get out and make it public as soon as possible,” said Mallinder. “It only happened today [Friday], so whether they make available over the weekend, I’m not sure.”

Asked if this incident shows the urgent need for independent medical teams to be present at every game, Mallinder said that such a matter is not for him to decide.

“I don’t really want to get involved in that side of things. I think there’s people who are more experienced and specialised in that area than I am to comment on the procedures and processes that we need to do to go forward.”

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Murray Kinsella

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