Grand-final change could stop concussion pain: Leniu


Penrith prop Spencer Leniu has called for the NRL to schedule a week’s rest before the grand final, in a bid to save players copping the same concussion heartache he almost went through last year.

Leniu received a late clearance to play in 2022’s decider for Penrith, after suffering a concussion following a reckless high tackle from South Sydney winger Taane Milne in the previous week’s preliminary final.

Under the NRL concussion protocols in place this year, Leniu would have been automatically ruled out of the grand final with no avenue to prove his fitness.

The Panthers prop is adamant a solution must be found, whether it is players signing waivers to take to the field or Andrew Johns’ suggestion of a two-week period between the preliminary finals and grand final.

“A week off would be the most ideal way to do it,” Leniu said.

“Not just for me, but as a fan.

“If Nathan Cleary, Latrell Mitchell or Cody Walker have a concussion the week before the grand final, everyone would be devastated.

“They go through a gruelling pre-season, then 29 games to get to that point. It would suck so much for them if they were to get a head knock.”

Some 21 players have been ruled out of matches since the NRL’s 11-day mandatory stand-down was introduced last month.

There is unlikely to be a change to this year’s schedule, but Leniu wants the league to consider a gap for next season.

The 22-year-old has previously experienced the disappointment of missing a decider. In 2020 he was left devastated after being isolated from Penrith’s squad with a virus during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said being cleared by specialists to play in last year’s grand final was as much of a high as winning the match, and did not want that opportunity taken away from others.

“I’m sure the topic will come up a lot come finals or Origin. And it should,” Leniu said.

“Our sport is a contact-dominated sport, and injuries occur every game

“If these rules were to apply last year, it would have been proper heartbreaking. It would have been pretty hard.

“As a fan myself of rugby league, I want to see the best playing the game.

“A week off and then the grand final would help both teams prepare the best they can too.”

Penrith captain and NSW halfback Nathan Cleary said Leniu’s call provided a potential solution.

“Maybe it is the answer,” Cleary said. “You just want the best players on the biggest day playing.

“It would have been hard for Spenny last year, if someone from foul play knocks him out cold and he misses the grand final from it.

“You don’t want people missing such big games from concussions.”

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