Panthers defend Yeo's concussion return

Panthers' Isaah Yeo returned to the field after picking up a concussion against the Knights.
Panthers' Isaah Yeo returned to the field after picking up a concussion against the Knights.

Penrith have defended the decision to allow co-captain Isaah Yeo to return to the field despite picking up a second concussion in as many weeks on Saturday.

Yeo appeared gone for the game when he copped a stray elbow from teammate Sione Katoa just three minutes into their NRL win over Newcastle.

Host broadcaster Fox Sports later reported Yeo was ruled out for the rest of the match, only for the second-rower to re-enter the game at the 29-minute mark.

His return raised eyebrows given it came after the required 15-minute period to undergo a head injury assessment and apply the free interchange.

However, it is understood there was a communication breakdown between the NRL ground official and television producers, which led to the confusion.

The Panthers were forced to burn two interchanges because of his late return, which officials claim was because of the stitches needed for the cut to his head.

The NRL confirmed that Yeo's case would be investigated as part of its weekly review of all HIA tests over the weekend.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary denied suggestions he would have sat Yeo out for the rest of the game even if the 24-year-old managed to pass the test.

"I'm not a doctor," Cleary said.

"Honestly, when it first happened, yeah, I thought he was going to be gone.

"But once I saw the incident and heard that he was getting stitched, I felt a lot better about it because when you get a stitch or a bad head cut, it can look worse than what it is in terms of concussion.

"And as he showed when he played - and he looks really good in there now - he was definitely handy to have back on."

Yeo went on to score a crucial try just after halftime, dragging five Knights defenders over the line to extend the Panthers' lead to eight.

He finished the night with 65 metres, 29 tackles and four tackles busts.

"When he came back, he normally plays on an edge but we left things as it was. Frank Winterstein was going okay," Cleary said.

"'Yowie' went in the middle and I thought he looked really good. Good try, and when we got to 16-8 I really felt we could've gone on with it a bit more.

"But couldn't get that done. It ended up giving me a few more grey hairs at the end of the game, but got there in the end."

Australian Associated Press