Australia scrumhalf Nic White has denied he was knocked out in the prelude to him being taken off for a HIA in the 48th minute of Saturday night’s defeat to Ireland and then being passed fit to resume playing eight minutes later.
The episode caused widespread debate on Virgin Media TV and on social media, with the lobby group Progressive Rugby demanding the incident be investigated by World Rugby. White first bounced his head off the ground when attempting a cover tackle on Mack Hansen before carrying into contact off the next play when his head collided with Josh van der Flier’s knee.
White lay on the ground and appeared dazed when helped off after also being seen to stumble, with referee Ben O’Keeffe also saying as much. It was surprising therefore that White even went for a HIA as opposed to being removed permanently, and even more so when he returned to the pitch.
White was actually one of the two Australian players brought out to the media afterwards and in addition to denying he had been knocked out, said: “I was pulled off by the physio to do a HIA, I felt fine. I passed my HIA, I went back on. I remember everything, clear as day, I feel fine. I feel good, passed my HIA and I was good to go.”
Informed of the outcry over his return, White said he was “very confident in the Australian medical team, very confident. I did the HIA and I passed it.
“Like, I’m 78kg – running up against these blokes, mate I feel fine now. You guys can attest to that. The process, I did the HIA and passed it. I’m good. How often do I run out of the corner out of a lineout and get bashed by three blokes? I was just a little ginger, I’m fine mate.”
Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie said: “He was asked to come off and they assessed him. He was assessed and he passed. I didn’t actually see the incident.”