Rugby league great and Channel 9 commentator Peter Stirling has become the first of the sport’s off-field personalities to undertake a compulsory head injury assessment under new National Rugby League rules governing the domestic game at the elite level.
Although HIA until now has been limited to testing injured players who may have been concussed on the field, the Australian Rugby League Commission ordered the NRL to conduct the HIA on Stirling during Sunday’s televised match-of-the-day clash between the Parramatta Eels and West Tigers.
Board members contacted one another and hastily arranged a telephone link-up after hearing Stirling’s half-time comments to camera: “It’s only sixteen to four despite the three-tries-to-one scoreline.”
They then voted almost unanimously for the NRL doctor at the game to conduct the HIA on Stirling during the second half.
As one ARLC board member told The Bug on condition of anonymity: “What did Stirlo think the difference between the sides could have been? Twenty-five to zero. Fifty to 10?”
The Bug asked its sports editor Pat Malone to crunch the numbers and he reports that under current NRL scoring rules, the maximum difference between the sides on the basis of those four tries scored would have been 18-4.
While the results of the tests on Stirling have not been made public, The Bug understands the ARLC is angry that Stirling resumed his commentary duties at game’s end (pictured top), risking even further damage to Benji Marshall’s intelligence.
The Bug also understands ARLC chair Peter Beattie (below) was the only dissenting voice during the phone hookup.
That same anonymous board member: “Peter said he got what Stirling was getting at, seeing the Eels scoreline could easily have been 33 at half-time, with the five points awarded for each try and the three points for a successful conversion, which Peter said of course would have been worth six if the ball had gone through the posts and then over the boundary fence on the full.
“I think Peter might have gotten his sporting codes mixed up a tad,” the board member said, diplomatically.
The Bug also understands that further HIA tests on Channel 9’s entire commentary panel – made up largely of ex-players with long and illustrious NRL and Test careers – have shown many struggled to properly answer simple arithmetic additions, their language skills were are at primary school grade 3 level at best and most of them, Jonathan Thurston and maybe one other apart, all voted Liberal. The HIA on Andrew Johns showed no brain activity whatsoever.
And The Bug further understands that veteran game-caller Ray Warren may have made his last broadcast.