Canterbury are the first club to be sanctioned for flouting the NRL's new concussion laws after being slapped with a $20,000 fine.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said on Tuesday the Bulldogs had been issued with a breach notice over an incident involving forward Josh Jackson in their round-two win over Cronulla. Jackson was permitted to continue playing after a heavy knock to the head.
The Bulldogs have indicated they will appeal the decision.
“Player welfare is the absolute priority of everyone at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and we are supportive of the NRL’s new rules surrounding the assessment of concussion,” said Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle.
“We don’t agree with all the findings in the breach notice and, as per the process, will be using the next seven days to have those discussions with the NRL.”
The Bulldogs are one of five clubs over the opening five rounds to be asked for explanations about their handling of players with symptoms of concussion and other teams could be fined with investigations continuing into other incidents.
The Bulldogs were fined $20,000, with $10,000 suspended because the Jackson matter was a first breach. They are, however, liable to pay the full fine if they are found to have breached the rules again this season, and could already be in danger of being sanctioned again after their English forward James Graham failed to immediately come from the field, and when he did he returned to play, after a head knock against the Melbourne Storm in round four.
“Given this is a new policy we are very pleased with the way clubs have enforced it,” Greenberg said.
“It is clear that they are taking the new rules seriously and are acting quickly to assess and treat players who suffer a head knock.
“There is no doubt the new policy has raised awareness of the need to take concussion seriously. We know that the club doctors and medical staff are best placed to determine whether a player should return to the field after a head knock.
“We believe they are overwhelmingly acting in the best interests of their players but we will continue to take action where a breach occurs.”
The NRL said 27 players had been taken from the field in the first five rounds to undergo sideline concussion assessments, with 14 of those players returning to play after being cleared.