Ex-Leeds Rhinos Stevie Ward still suffering with concussion symptoms & calls for change but still “loves” the sport

Concussion is one of the biggest talking points in rugby league at this moment in time.

As studies progress and more research is done into the impact of head injuries, the RFL and NRL have taken steps to make the game safer trying to stamp out contact with the head.

This is really important after a group of former players began preparing to take legal action against the game whilst young stars like Stevie Ward are forced to retire due to concussion.

Ward, after just one game as Leeds skipper, was forced to retire at 27 due to concussion and speaking about the need to take more steps to make the game safer on GB News, Ward explained just how difficult of a decision it was to make whilst also revealing he still struggles with the symptoms today nearly three years since the incident on February 2nd 2020.

“Yeah I had to make that choice, and make that decision to come away,” Ward said this morning, “I was 27 and probably coming into my prime as an athlete and I had that opportunity to lead a team for the rest of my career.

“I literally just had a teammate of mine Rob Burrow get diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. I set on the path to win, to bring more success back to Leeds in Rob’s name and I picked up the concussions and ended up retiring with post-concussion symptoms which are symptoms I still struggle with today.

“Headaches, dizzy spells, nausea, migraines and confusion, anxiety. It coincides with leaving the game, the life I’ve always had. It’s been a tough couple of years.”

When asked if he regrets ever playing the game but believes the game must take the necessary steps to make it safer for its participants: “I don’t regret it, it’s just who I am since six years old. I’ve found a lot of love through that game and was a way for me to build leadership skills, to connect with people and have amazing opportunities.

“It’s also hurt me a lot has the game, I’ve had a lot of injuries through it but it’s put me onto a journey that is even more important where we’ve got to look after each other.

“Right now the message is for players to take some responsibility and control what they can in this current climate. It’s scary and it’s hard to navigate as a player, you have to be invincible and single-minded but we’ve got to be doing the things we know we can do to help the science and make sure we’re looking after each other.

“We have to reduce contact and I think we do that by playing less games. Less contact time in training. I’d make 40 or 50 tackles a game on a Friday night and then on Monday at training I’d do the same again. It’s a lot of concussions, sub-concussions.”

He ended on this statement, as he underlined his love for the game but stated that the game needs to find a “balance.”

“We love the game,” Ward said, “We don’t want the game to go away, it makes people feel incredible. We need to find the balance.”

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