Lawes: Concussion protocols a good sign of rugby progression

July 13, 2022 GMT
England's Maro Itoje is tackled by Australia's Noah Lolesio during the rugby international between England and the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
England's Maro Itoje is tackled by Australia's Noah Lolesio during the rugby international between England and the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
England's Maro Itoje is tackled by Australia's Noah Lolesio during the rugby international between England and the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
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England's Maro Itoje is tackled by Australia's Noah Lolesio during the rugby international between England and the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
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England's Maro Itoje is tackled by Australia's Noah Lolesio during the rugby international between England and the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)

SYDNEY (AP) — England captain Courtney Lawes is quite OK about having teammates unavailable for the series-deciding rugby test against Australia after head injury assessment protocols because, he says, it’s evidence of the game’s progression.

Veteran forwards Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill have been withdrawn from England’s squad for Saturday’s third test in Sydney after sustaining concussions in last weekend’s series-leveling 25-17 win in Brisbane.

“It shows the progression of the game, where if you picked up a head knock this time last year, you’d be all right to play for this next test,” Lawes said Wednesday. “I think it’s better safe than sorry.

“If you pick up a head knock in a game then you should have the time you need to recover from it, so I see (head injury assessment protocols) as a good thing.”

Itoje was injured making a tackle on Wallabies center Hunter Paisami just before halftime and Underhill was replaced midway through the second half after attempting a tackle on winger Marika Koroibete.

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Australia, which won the first test 30-28 in Perth, is also struggling with injuries.

The Wallabies lost Jordan Petaia to concussion in the third minute of the second test, replacement back Izaia Perese and lock Caderyn Neville with knee injuries in the second half and prop Scott Sio with a shoulder problem.

Lawes said the injury tolls were unfortunate, but “it is the nature of the game at this point because there’s so many good athletes, there’s so many big collisions and its a tough sport.”

“We play a tough physical game and we all know what we signed up for, and a lot of it is effectively down to luck.”

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