Knights coach Adam O'Brien says he won't take any risks with halfback Mitchell Pearce ahead of Sunday's clash with Canberra, declaring his captain won't play unless he is fully recovered from concussion.
And highlighting how seriously he takes the health of his players, O'Brien said the absolute final call will come from medical experts and not Pearce or the coach himself.
"We don't take these things lightly here," O'Brien said. "It's not Mitch's decision and it's not my decision - it's got to be the doctor's decision."
Newcastle's most influential player, Pearce lasted just four minutes of last Sunday's epic 14-all draw with the Panthers after being knocked senseless attempting to tackle Penrith centre Stephen Crichton.
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He was wobbly-legged when he was helped from the field and it was 15 minutes before he started to feel completely clear-headed again. But he spent the remainder of the match watching from the bench and told the Newcastle Herald after the game he was feeling fine and had suffered no ill-effects.
Teammates even commented it was like he hadn't even suffered a concussion on the way home on the team bus and it appears unlikely at this stage that he will be ruled out.
But as per NRL rules, Pearce won't take part in any contact sessions this week at training and will need to pass a series of tests before being given the green light to take on the Raiders.
Mason Lino was named in the squad and is on standby should Pearce be a late withdrawal.
"Mitch has got to jump through all the protocol hoops," O'Brien said.
"The one thing I will say is I 100 percent back the professionals on this. It's not about me chatting with Mitch and asking him how he's feeling.
"He's saying he's fine and how he was after the game, I'd suggest he is but at the end of the day, we're not the professional on that. But we have professionals here and we'll listen to those guys.
"The world's leading experts on concussion, they are the ones who have laid down the protocols so we'll listen to those fellas and if he's right he's right but if he's not, I've got Mason and Tex [Hoy]."
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O'Brien defended his decision to name Pearce in his squad after suggestions the Knights should have already made the decision to rest their skipper given the nature of the concussion and how it looked on the field.
"If I don't name him in the team and he jumps through all the hoops and feels unbelievable at the end of the week, he can't play.
"At the same time, I name a halfback in the 20 in Mason, I keep Tex there and there is no pressure on Mitch.
"If he's not feeling good, he's not playing. I have that deep care for my players. They've got a long life after footy."
O'Brien explained the testing procedures and protocols in place that Pearce will need to follow and pass before being cleared.
"He needs to go through the CogSports - there's a series of tests there, he needs to be symptom-free, he doesn't participate in contact and doesn't do any of that all the way up to the game," he said. "I won't risk him. If he is no good, he's no good."
Asked if he believes the NRL should bring in a blanket rule to stand down concussed players automatically for at least one game, O'Brien said: "I'm of the understanding that we've got leading world experts that are across all this that have laid down the current protocols so I'm certainly not more equipped to add any extras."
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