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The NRL could face bankruptcy

The NRL could face bankruptcy down the line. That’s the view of former halfback-now-boxer Joe Williams when he discussed the possibility of endless lawsuits from head knocks and concussions.

It’s been a topic that has been doing the rounds ever since the NRL announced their crackdown on head high contact, with Sydney Roosters’ Boyd Cordner having to retire in an emotional farewell this week after suffering numerous head knocks.

Williams, who is now 37, has battled with mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts a decade ago from the number of head knocks he sustained during his rugby league career.

Speaking on The Project on Monday night, Williams expressed his remorse for Australia Test captain Cordner, but was also pleased that the conversation about the issue is attracting more attention. That was then counteracted with a stark warning that future lawsuits could ruin the NRL.

“A player is going the do everything a player possibly can to make sure that he’s playing,’ Williams said.

“That’s just what players do, and it’s the athleticism, it’s the competitor in every single player.

“So, for me, I want to still play. I still want to box. Like, it’s the athlete’s mentality that you just want to do.

“But when it comes to the safety and, you know, insurance that the game – that we have a game in 50 years’ time, because the way things are going with class action suits and so forth, we’re at risk of not having a game.”

Meanwhile, the 15-a-side code governing body, World Rugby, is facing a concussion lawsuit from eight former players over the effects of such knocks, with some players even being diagnosed with early onset dementia before the age of 45.

And, Williams was open about the effects that head knocks have had his on life, with forgetting a friend’s death and failing to pick up his kids from school among the consequences.

“I don’t care what people say, you can’t say that that’s not from getting knocked around the head,” he said.

“But as I’ve said it numerous times – I’m not interested in the people who say it is or it isn’t an impacting factor. I’m more interested in how we fix it.”

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