WHEN the new rules to limit subs at the start of the year came into force, one of my colleagues in the press pack predicted that the number of players going off for concussion assessments - and returning to the field - would go up.

I have no figures - but will try to get them by the end of the year - but given the level of suspicion there now is that teams are using this as a loophole it is an area that does need attention.

However, it is an issue we have to tread carefully around because we have to remember the player welfare issue at the centre of this.

We don’t want players staying on the park with a concussion.

And we can all remember games in the past where players would insist they were fit to soldier on despite their legs going to jelly and seeing stars.

Back in the 80s, roared on by the Scaff in full voice, Saints packman Paul Round was putting in the big hits and then suddenly put his head in the wrong place and was sparked out. To cries of “Rambo, Rambo, Rambo!” he regained his feet before wobbly rejoining the line - sense prevailed on the touchline and he was shepherd’s crooked.

Not all head knocks are as visible, so yes, they do need checking.

What we don’t want is a situation developing akin to rugby union’s bloodgate were players faked injury to allow for tactical substitutions.

But it is hard to prove if teams are cheating, difficult to prove that a prop’s head check at 19 minutes is just a free sub.

However, there must be data on this this.

All this should be fed into a system - teams, players, timings and outcomes.

And if there is clear pattern of the system being possibly abused - maybe further, independent medical scrutiny of those clubs, is required.