Rugby league has been rocked in recent years with an increasing number of side effects and problems coming from playing the sport.
With Rob Burrow being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and Stevie Ward having to retire in 2020 due to severe concussion symptoms, brain injuries have been thrust to the forefront of the sport.
But, former Salford Red Devils, Toronto Wolfpack and London Broncos forward Olsi Krasniqi, believes more needs to be done by those at the top to change the culture of the game – effectively moving away from the determination to get back on the field regardless of injury.
“That was a part of the game I loved,” Krasniqi told Sky Sports in an extremely honest interview.
“Essentially, you’re a gladiator out there and you’re entertaining people playing this great game. It’s given me everything I’ve got to this day, but at the same time it’s taken away a lot.
“Lads need to make that decision and be wise with it. That attitude of cracking on maybe wasn’t always the right thing, but it’s kind of what you were bred to do and if I can give any advice it would be think twice.”
Krasniqi called on players to think of the long-term benefits, not short-term gain.
“If you come off the pitch and you’re not feeling right, just put your hands up and there is nothing wrong with that. You might upset a coach or a team-mate for a game or so, but in the long run, you’ve got a long career ahead of you and even longer life.
“The progress I’m making gives me hope there will be better things to come…I’d just like to see more progress come through from a governing body level.”
Meanwhile, Ward himself is fronting a documentary about living with his concussion issues after the former Leeds skipper is still suffering from symptoms 18 months later.
The RFL has, in turn, released a statement in response.
“The RFL has been very saddened to hear about Stevie’s difficulties,” the statement read.
“The RFL has always taken and continues to take the safety and welfare of all players extremely seriously. Rugby League is a contact sport and there is an element of risk to playing any sport.
“As a result of the continuing developments in scientific and medical knowledge relating to those risks, the sport of Rugby League continues to improve and develop its approach to concussion, head injury assessment, education, management and prevention across the whole game.
“We will continue to use medical evidence and research to reinforce, improve and enhance our approach as we have always done.”
It comes as a number of ex-professional rugby league stars have revealed their desire to sue the governing body over what they allege to be concussion negligence over the years.