Exclusive: Ex-Salford Red Devils prop Olsi Krasniqi on potential lawsuit, the RFL and concussion laws

Olsi Krasniqi has never been one for the limelight during his rugby league career.

Having got on with his job in a professional manner after debuting for the London Broncos in 2010, that was about to change late last year.

The 29-year-old was forced into retirement after suffering a brain injury from a long string of concussions over the years.

As the debate surrounding the concussion issue continues to grow, Krasniqi was one of the few unfortunates that had to hang up his boots because of it – but he has spoken to Serious About Rugby League about just how helpful the aftercare team have been at the RFL.

“I’ve had a lot of support from RL Cares in getting me ready for life after rugby and they have been there through some pretty tough times,” Krasniqi said.

“It’s been extremely useful for me and has put me in the right place to actually take a step back and see the damage I am causing myself and accept the fact I was at the end of my career.” 

When asked what needs to be changed regarding the concussion laws, the Albanian-born enforcer had a number of ideas of how to lessen the increasing problem.

“I believe it’s foolish to think new laws will eradicate concussions, it’s just not possible, the game is so fast, and players are incredibly athletic, there are constant moving parts that you’re bound to end up in a bad position at some point or be in a big collision.

“But what we can do is improve the things we already have in place like the HIA protocol, which I am sure has saved many players from extra damage but I think we need to make it more personalised to each player.

“Personally, I didn’t have too many problems in passing the test even when I was in a bad shape. That puts everyone involved in a real moral dilemma, what do you do going forward if you’re passing the test but feel horrible?

“You’re relying on medical to make a big call or risk further damage. Physios do such a great job creating prehab programmes for players so they can prevent injuries, and I believe we can do the same for the HIA plus the recovery programme needs to be more than just rest.

“All concussions are different even though the blow is to the same place it must be treated differently, just like a torn hamstring, you treat it depending on which of the three muscles is torn. Should be no different for the brain.”

Krasniqi was also honest about changing the amount of contact professionals do during the week so as not to overdo things. 

“I also think we need to come up with some changes to how much contact we can do throughout the week. There must be some sort of cap put in place preventing people from over doing it. It’s something that many contact sports all over the world are adopting and it’s time we looked at doing the same, it’s completely unregulated at the moment.

“At the end of the day this may save some players and will give extra cover for clubs and the RFL in case of potential lawsuits of the likes we are currently seeing.

“At the very least we have to change the way we view concussions. A ‘bang to the head’ or a ‘head knock’ have become such consistent terms that we use to describe the injury but it doesn’t shed enough light to what is actually going on inside the brain and the trauma that can be caused from it.

“A concussion shouldn’t be spoken about in the same terms such as a twisted ankle it is so much more important than that.

“The consequences and repercussions of not giving this injury the property time to heal is massive.” 

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4 days ago

It’s a terrible thing and a terrible contradiction that players may hasten the demise of their sport. Sad.