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Should Dufty have been allowed to return to field after Ramien shot?

The 25-year-old was given the green light to return 15 minutes later and had a mixed night afterwards, scoring a scintillating solo try but dropping crucial high balls in the Dragons’ 32-18 loss.

Asked about the club’s handling of the incident, a Dragons spokesperson said: “In the instance of Matt Dufty’s head knock on Sunday evening, the Dragons followed all the necessary HIA protocols as dictated by NRL guidelines.

Matt Dufty was off the field for 15 minutes following a hit from Cronulla’s Jesse Ramien.

Matt Dufty was off the field for 15 minutes following a hit from Cronulla’s Jesse Ramien.Credit:Getty

“Dufty passed his HIA assessment and was therefore allowed to return to the game.”

The concussion issue was one of the major talking points from the opening round with Roosters co-captain Jake Friend copping a nasty head knock with his immediate playing future in doubt.

The Tricolours will already be without Boyd Cordner for at least 12 rounds after a repeat concussion during last year’s State of Origin series.

The NRL has introduced a 11-day stand down for players who are diagnosed with concussion this season, and they will only be able to return within a shorter timeframe with written clearance from a specialist concussion doctor.

It will mean a player concussed during a grand final qualifier will need a special exemption to play in the season’s biggest game.

The Sharks will wait until Tuesday morning to enter a plea for Ramien with the club seriously considering challenging the grading of the tackle, which threatens to rub one of John Morris’ biggest strike weapons out of crucial matches against the Raiders, Eels and Cowboys in the next few weeks.

Cronulla was weighing up whether a case could be mounted which proves Ramien’s tackle should be downgraded to careless rather than reckless.

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Ironically, a hit from Dufty’s St George Illawarra teammate Jordan Pereira on Gold Coast’s Corey Thompson last year could be used as part of their evidence.

Dufty’s inclusion will be pivotal for the Dragons in their clash against North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night, which could see the return from suspension of Corey Norman after he was banned by the NRL for his role in a Cronulla street fight.

“Obviously we went to Mudgee and came up against a really good Rabbitohs team and maybe that was what we needed, a kick in the arse to get us going,” St George Illawarra centre Jack Bird said. “I thought we fought really hard [against the Sharks] and showed a lot of courage.

“Everyone can say what they want about us, but I’m confident in the team we have.”

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