Rugby League legend Wally Lewis reveals CTE dementia diagnosis

Australian Rugby League legend Wally Lewis has been told he has CTE, a disease which leads to dementia. 

During an interview on 60 minutes, Lewis, known as ‘the King’ spoke on his diagnosis with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.

Speaking honestly about his struggle, Lewis said:“For a lot of sports guys, I think most of us take on this belief that we’ve got to prove how tough we are, how rugged, and if we put our hands up and seek sympathy, then we’re going to be seen as the real cowards of the game,”

“But we’ve got to take it on and admit that the problems are there.”

He also explained a story about his visit to the doctor. “One of my first meetings with the doctor when she asked me just to repeat simple things,” he said. “And I think she gave me five things and it might have been something like bus, dog, truck, camera, chair.”

“She said ‘remember those’ and went over them two or three times, ” he added. “And then said to me, ‘how are you feeling? Everything OK? You don’t feel nervous?’

“A minute later she said, ‘what are the things I asked you to remember?’ and I got two of them. Then sometime later after that she said, do you remember what they were? And I think I said bus and she looked up and yeah. Pride’s a wonderful thing, but there wasn’t a lot of it around then.”

During the interview on 60 minutes, Lewis’ neurologist Dr Rowena Mobbs highlighted her certainty of he diagnosis.

“You could interpret it as guesswork, she said.  “But it’s educated guesswork by a specialist in dementia.”

She added: “It does look like CTE. There’s plenty of evidence pointing towards that – I’m 90 per cent certain this is the case.”

Wally Lewis had a highly decorated career, where he represented Australia and Queensland on more than 30 occasions each. At club level, he featured for Gold Coast and Brisbane; and also spent time in England, where he played 10 games for Wakefield.