Trent Robinson has declared the Sydney Roosters would not stand in Luke Keary’s way of playing State of Origin despite the star five-eighth suffering his second serious concussion in five weeks and his third in seven months in Friday night’s shock 38-12 loss to Newcastle.
On a night when an inspired Mitchell Pearce well and truly put his hand up for Origin selection with his fifth consecutive man-of-the-match performance, Brad Fittler’s Origin preparations were thrown into turmoil after Keary was crunched in a legal but heavy tackle in just the eighth minute that knocked him out cold.
With the Roosters playing without Cooper Cronk who was rested, a near-capacity home crowd of 25,929 were blown away by the Knights’ performance that must certainly now have them rated as a fair dinkum premiership threat after knocking up their fifth straight victory.
But the win will somewhat be overshadowed by Keary’s health concerns given Fittler will name his team on Sunday to take on Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on June 5.
Keary’s place in the Blues’ team was expected to be a formality with the Roosters tipped to partner Nathan Cleary in the halves.
But that could all now hinge on a neurological assessment in the coming days.
Asked if the Roosters would want Keary to play given his recent history of head knocks, Robinson said: “If he is right I would love him to play. He deserves to play.
You can’t be selfish as a coach when it comes to Origin. You have to allow those guys to go and play because they get more fatigued and they become better players.
“So any chance you get to have your players play Origin you will drive them there if you have to because it does cost but it does make them better.”
Robinson was reluctant to go into the details of what Keary would need to overcome to be passed fit.
But he said it would start with waking up without a headache on Saturday and if he passes the protocols in the coming days he could do contact training after four days and would be fit to play after six.
With Origin on June 5, that gives Keary more than enough time to prove his fitness providing he passes the protocols.
But Fittler conceded he would have to take the advice of medical experts before naming his team.
Former Roosters’ club doctor Ameer Ibrahim said Keary would need neurological assessment before he can play for NSW.
Keary was also concussed in the round six clash against Melbourne and he was also knocked out while playing for Australia late last year.
The incident last night occurred in opening minutes when Keary was smashed legitimately by young Knights’ prop Daniel Saifiti.
The five-eighth did not appear to move for some time.
Keary was eventually assisted from the field looking like he had no recollection.
Robinson said he was “average”, and Fittler said on Channel Nine: “My big concern is his health at the moment. I will take advice of medical staff.”
Trent Robinson said during the week that in his mind Pearce will always be a Rooster.
But boy didn’t Pearce play with something to prove against his former club.
And he certainly made it known exactly where his loyalties now lie when he kissed the Knights’ badge on his jumper after scoring a crucial try just before halftime.
Pearce put on a brilliant show of leadership while fullback Kalyn Ponga was equally superb.
It was the fifth consecutive game Pearce has scored in while Ponga made it six tries in as many games with a brilliant solo try where he stepped past three defenders.
The Knights were absolutely dominant from start to finish, taking a 22-6 lead to halftime and even though the Roosters slowed the points in the second half they were totally outplayed and outmuscled.
After a slow start to the season the Knights have really turned the corner, with their last loss back in round six against Gold Coast.
It was the type of win that is going to raise the bar on the expectations of the Knights this year, especially given they also did it for the most part without in-form hooker Danny Levi who suffered a syndesmosis ankle injury in the 12th minute.
Across the park they are also playing with plenty of aggression and spirit, led superbly up front by David Klemmer who charged for 191m, while Saifiti was also enormous.
That was the Roosters’ second loss on the trot and the decision to rest Cronk really came back to bite them after Keary’s early injury.
The Roosters looked tired and well in need of the rest they will get next weekend with the bye heading into Origin.