Saints last night issued a statement stressing that ‘player safety is the club’s primary concern’ following an incident involving George North at Welford Road.
North landed badly after a challenge from Leicester Tigers wing Adam Thompstone during the first half of Saints’ 19-11 Aviva Premiership defeat at Welford Road.
Footage appeared to show that the Wales wing had been knocked unconscious, as he lay motionless on the turf.
But North was able to get up and walk off the field for a head injury assessment before returning to action and completing the match.
Saints’ decision to allow the 24-year-old to return has come in for some criticism, particularly from BT Sport pundit Ugo Monye.
And the club opted to issue a statement on Saturday night.
It read: “George was attended to by the Northampton Saints medical team rapidly after landing on his side following a challenge in the air by Adam Thompstone.
“George was communicating immediately with attending medics and complaining of neck pain.
“Significant neck injury was excluded on the field but on review of video footage pitch side, the team followed World Rugby protocols and used a Head Injury Assessment given the potential mechanism for head injury.
“George was fully assessed by the doctor and passed fit to return to play.
“Northampton Saints places the highest importance on player care and their safety is the club’s primary concern.”
North tweeted a couple of hours after the match, insisting that he had sustained a neck injury rather than concussion.
He said: “Thanks for all the messages. I am ok. I landed on my neck and was worried about it. Thanks to the medics for checking me out properly.
“I can’t help but feel I won’t be looking left or right for a few days. Thanks again for the messages. Onwards to Europe.”
Jim Mallinder was asked about the decision to allow North to continue.
And the Saints boss said: “I don’t make those decisions and what our doctors, medical staff are really, really clear about is that if anybody gets unconscious or had a knock where they look like they are concussed, then they need to come straight off. It’s as simple as that.
“You wouldn’t go to be assessed, you’d be off straight away.
“George has had some previous issues so he took it steady.
“I haven’t actually spoken to him, but the doctor was very, very happy, even as he walked off to go for an assessment.
“Thankfully he could come back on.”
Mallinder added: “It is our doctor who makes those decisions, but I also know there are more medical protocols that go on in terms of people looking at the incident.
“We actually have a trained medic here who also looks at that.
“He got up and it looked pretty nasty at the time. We’ve got to protect these lads.
“We’re all for, if they’re injured, getting them off, but thankfully George was happy to carry on, the medical team were happy that he wasn’t concussed and he could carry on.”