Andy Farrell has defended the Ireland medical team following the controversy surrounding Jeremy Loughman being allowed to return to the field after suffering what looked like a significant head knock.
The Ireland prop, who was making his first Ireland appearance in Wednesday’s defeat to the Maori All Blacks, was unsteady on his feet before he gingerly left the fray and later returned, until he was taken off again at half-time.
According to Farrell, the independent match doctor permitted Loughman to play on, but it is understood the Ireland medical team did not see the same footage until half-time, at which point they took the Munster loosehead off.
Farrell has since confirmed that Loughman has entered the concussion return-to-play protocols – and, as a result, he has been ruled out of tomorrow’s first Test against the All Blacks.
“He got cleared by the independent match-day doctor and we reviewed that at half-time and did the right thing. He’s now going through the HIA (head injury assessment) return-to-play protocols,” Farrell said of Loughman.
Asked if this saga highlighted an inherent flaw in the system, Farrell responded: “It’s above me, really. We try do our best and that’s what we did, 100pc. What we and our medical staff did was look after Jeremy to the best of our ability, and that will continue.”
Farrell is sweating over the availability of Cian Healy, who he named on the bench tomorrow, despite the veteran prop needing a medical cart to help him off the pitch on Wednesday.
Ireland are due to make a final decision on Healy’s fitness today, with Leinster loosehead Ed Byrne flying to New Zealand as cover.