Gibbs said: “There is no increased risk of getting a new concussion if you are fully recovered from the first one. To be honest, it should be about whether a player has recovered or not, not a 12-day mandatory period.
“So if the AFL are saying players now need to sit out a minimum 12 days, that implies they’ve got evidence that supposedly shows players who miss a round and then come back will [benefit].
“This is a backward step for mine. The AFL are going back to mandatory stand-down periods rather than using expert assessments and neuropsychometric testing, which is being done with great success in all the codes.
“It is very rare to see a player upon his return to the game after passing all the post-concussion tests to sustain another concussion in his return game.
“Rugby, NRL and AFL all have the same return-to-play guidelines, they are all based on the International Concussion Summit, which was held in Berlin in 2016.
“That world body have not changed those recommendations that I’m aware of, so it seems odd the AFL have now come up with their own protocols that go against that advice.
“The last 10 years all the codes have spent a massive amount of time improving the way concussion is managed and educating players about the importance of not hiding concussions, yet this might take concussions underground again. You have to wonder if there will be any concussions diagnosed during the finals … they might have to schedule the grand final 13 days after the preliminary finals.”
As it stands in the NRL, players must sit out a minimum six days and pass the required concussion tests before returning to the field.
Abdo said ARL Commission chairman Peter V’Landys had already flagged addressing the concussion issue before the season kick-off, and there would be no “knee-jerk reactions”.
“It’s possible we may make some changes before the season, but I don’t know what they will be,” Abdo said.
“It’s important to carefully consider any change because some changes have unintended consequences.
“We certainly do not want to see a situation where players or coaches are making a decision based on a potential mandatory period a player may have to be sidelined for. These are all issues that need to be carefully considered.”
Gibbs said the AFL and other sporting codes should be focused on ways to reduce the risk of concussions in the first place, which includes harsher penalties and suspensions for blows to the head that can be avoided.
The AFL said its chief medical officer Peter Harcourt and deputy chief medical officer and Michael Makdissi, a long-term doctor at Hawthorn, prepared the concussion guidelines.
The protocols come in the same week a post-mortem on the late Shane Tuck revealed he had suffered with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a diagnosis that was also made on football legends Graham Farmer and Danny Frawley.
The NSWRL last year introduced an 18th man as a concussion substitute while enforcing a mandatory 14-day stand-down rule for players knocked out.
Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox each weekday. Sign up here.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.