Former Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward calls for change and says ‘people are getting really ill’ from concussions in the game

Ex-Leeds Rhinos captain, Stevie Ward, has spoken out about the current situation in rugby league regarding concussion protocols and how they need to change if the game is to move forward.

Ward, a sufferer of injuries throughout his playing days, had his rugby league career ripped away from him due to a brain injury caused by concussion injuries – retiring at the age of 27.

In the opening game of the 2020 season, he led his boyhood team out onto the Headingley pitch against Hull FC. However, this would turn out to be the final game of the second-rower’s career after suffering a head knock in the first half and coming off the pitch with a concussion.

To this day, the three-time Grand Final winner still struggles with migraines and normal, everyday life tasks as mentioned on his podcast ‘Mantality’.

Now, he calls for a change in the procedures regarding concussion and how it needs to be done as soon as possible – for the sake of the game.

Speaking to Sky Sports, who have followed Ward’s journey with concussion, he said: “Things do need to change. We need to suspend our emotions and desire to see the biggest hits and people playing after they’ve been concussed and being okay with people coming out the line and taking someone’s head off.

“We need to just understand and sit with the understanding that people are getting really ill, whether that’s short-term or long-term.”

Leeds Rhinos halfback Aidan Sezer missed the Super League Grand Final last month due to concussion protocols, after he was hit late by Wigan forward John Bateman.

Many pundits and former pros questioned the rules at the time after the Australian passed his HIA, but he failed to return to the field during the semi-final win at Wigan as a precaution.

Because of the protocols, Sezer was unable to play at Old Trafford and Ward says we need to find a middle ground between physicality and player safety.

“We want a game that’s physical, we want a game that makes everyone feel amazing and we get so much benefit from it.

“Because no one wants the game to go away, no one wants the game to go away.”

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