One of the most talked about things in rugby league these days is head injuries.
This really took centre stage when Leeds Rhinos skipper Stevie Ward was forced into early retirement after suffering from concussion symptoms for a year.
Since, then the debate has only gotten more heated. Players are taking legal action against the sport, the RFL and NRL have tried to clamp down of contact with the head resulting in more yellow and red cards, and we’ve even seen the introduction of the 18th man in the NRL which we are set to see for the first time in England during the World Cup.
A man who has positioned himself right at the heart of the debate is former St Helens star James Graham.
The former prop suffered over 100 concussions over the course of his career as he won two Super League Grand Finals playing in seven.
In recent times, he’s made a conscious effort to bring concussion into the lime light with his new podcast Head Noise and revealed that he wrote a letter to his children explaining who he was to his children in case early onset dementia was brought on by the number of head knocks he has suffered.
Now Graham has been supported by Sky Sports who have helped shine a light on what is needed to combat the issue – an attitude change.
He told Sky Sports: “The environment within contact sports is never show you’re hurt, get up, continue, and go on – and when it comes to brain-related injuries that can’t be the case.
“It’s not a badge of honour – it certainly used to be. It used to be seen as a badge of honour to be stumbling around, regain your feet, get back in the defensive line and go make the next tackle – or be removed from the field of play, be around some senior players and say ‘I want to continue’ for them, the coach, the fans, or the sense of meaning my sport gives me.
“That environment and how we talk about things like concussion and treat it will have a really significant difference in how people approach it in the future.”
Certainly, a valid view from Graham and one that seems very minimal but could have massive benefits on the game and this area that needs addressing.
For the full interview, click here.