For the second straight year, the Sydney Roosters are struggling through an injury crisis that only got worse on Friday night with five-eighth Drew Hutchison hospitalised with a suspected punctured lung.
The injury came from clear knees to the back from opposite number Dylan Brown just before half-time in the Roosters’ 31-18 loss to Parramatta, and to make matters worse, the incident was not penalised on the field.
Hutchison was diving for the tryline attempting to finish off a left-side attacking move with seconds left in the first half at Western Sydney Stadium, when Brown hit him.
Despite numerous replays, the incident went unreported and unpenalised in the moment, with the bunker giving a penalty for a high shot earlier in the play by Marata Niukore on fullback James Tedesco.
Meanwhile, Hutchison was screaming in pain on the ground, holding his ribs and clearly having trouble breathing.
Because Brown’s effort was not deemed foul play at the time, the Roosters did not get a free interchange.
Brown was put on report at half-time, but Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the Roosters did not find out about that until the team was running onto the field for the second half, by which time Hutchison had already been loaded into an ambulance en route to the hospital.
“They could’ve told us 10 minutes in [to the break] so I could’ve changed it in the dressing room, but they told us as we were running out on the field, so I had to make a split-second change as soon as we ran out on the field,” he said after the game.
“It’s ridiculous, it’s incompetent to not see that. The guy goes to hospital and then 20 minutes later you put him [the opponent] on report? It’s ridiculous.”
The Hutchison injury was particularly troubling for the Roosters, who are already without co-captains Jake Friend (concussion, retired) and Boyd Cordner (concussion), and lost star half Luke Keary, starting prop Lindsay Collins and winger Brett Morris to season-ending knee injuries. They had also already lost lock Victor Radley to a head injury assessment (HIA) earlier in the game and winger Matt Ikuvalu was also being assessed for a concussion.
Had Brown been sin-binned or sent off, the Roosters could have activated their 18th man, star teenage recruit Joseph Suaalii, for his NRL debut.
Robinson called on the NRL to practice what they preach after authorities earlier vowed to crack down on dangerous contact, with an email sent to clubs and officials just two days ago encouraging the use of the sin bin and calling for minimal tolerance for avoidable contact with the head or neck.
While Niukore’s high shot on Tedesco was penalised, he avoided being sent from the field despite the NRL’s apparent crack down.
“[The NRL] came out sternly this week, and obviously not. Don’t send a letter and then not back it up,” Robinson said.
“That incident [with Brown and Hutchison] wasn’t good enough from the bunker and the referees.”
Robinson said he would not ask the NRL for an explanation because they should already be concerned about the flaws in the system.
“They don’t need me to ask the question, they should be looking at it themselves,” he said.
“How does it take 20 minutes to put someone on report, or to get that information to me when they had a lot of looks at it.
“They should have put it on report on field, really simply. Honestly, how many looks did they need?
“It’s just poor.”