Rugby League leads the way in tackling head injuries – Walmsley

By Sports Desk October 10, 2019

Rugby league is leading the way when it comes to assessing and treating head injuries in sport, according to St Helens' Alex Walmsley.

Walmsley is set to feature for Saints as they take on Salford Red Devils in Saturday's Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, while he is also in line to tour New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with Great Britain Lions.

It marks a remarkable comeback for Walmsley, who broke his neck in March 2018 while in action for Saints.

Concussion protocols have been in the spotlight in 2019, with Australia cricketer Steve Smith missing the third Ashes Test against England after he was struck by a Jofra Archer delivery. In rugby union, it has been suggested 10 minutes is not enough for a head injury assessment.

Though he believes rugby league is at the forefront of tackling the stigma surrounding head injuries, Walmsley acknowledged there is still plenty of work to be done.

"I didn't know I'd broken my neck but there was a gut instinct where I knew I'd done something which meant I shouldn't play on," Walmsley told Omnisport.

"With the head injury as well, it forced our hand to get me off the pitch.

"You look at Steve Smith and how devastated he was but we're not just sportsmen. We get tagged with how we should put our bodies on the line, but a lot of us are family men, we've got partners and kids and I think the most important thing to do after a game is you see your family.

"The way [rugby league] has gone, with the doctors in place and the head [injury] protocols, we're making sure that's right.

"There was a time when you'd be considered soft or weak if you came off with a concussion or head injury, you'd be expected to crack on. We're tough men who play a physical game but ultimately, regardless of the sport, if you've got a head issue we need to make sure we're safe and our sport is at the front of that."

Walmsley claimed the psychological aspect of his rehabilitation was the toughest hurdle to overcome, but to be on the verge of a Grand Final and a Lions tour has left him in no doubt he made the right decision in returning to rugby.

"It was a mental battle as much as it was a physical battle," said the 29-year-old, who has made 22 league appearances this term.

"Not only getting back into a position where I was right to play again but being confident in my body. That was a tough battle, there was a lot of tough conversations to be had, mainly in my own head, about what I was going to do and was it worth it.

"Thankfully I came to the decision where I knew my body was right. To get back playing, it makes those times all worthwhile."

 

Alex Walmsley is working with Dacia on their We Make Heroes campaign, celebrating understated heroes throughout Rugby League. To find out more, visit Dacia.com.

Related items

  • Permaul pushes Jaguars closer to win over Red Force Permaul pushes Jaguars closer to win over Red Force

    Veerasammy Permaul claimed another two wickets as defending champions Guyana Jaguars pushed leaders Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to the edge of defeat, heading into the final day of the West Indies Championship fixture at Providence.

    Resuming the day on 53 for 0, the Jaguars, led by a half-century from Chanderpaul Hemraj (54), added another 124 runs before declaring at 177 for 5. Vishaul Singh was unbeaten after adding a patient 37 from 74.

    In pursuit of a mammoth 402 to win, the Red Force were in early trouble when pace bowler Keon Joseph struck twice.  Keagan Simmons was the first to go after being caught by Anthony Bramble off the bowling of Joseph in the second over.  Darren Bravo only managed to put two runs on the board before falling to Joseph in the next two overs.  Opener Jeremy Solozano (34) steadied the ship after forming a partnership with Jason Mohammed (33) as the pair put on 62 for the third wicket.  The partnership was, however, broken when Solozano was dismissed lbw by Kevin Sinclair with Jason Mohammed falling to Permaul soon after. 

    Permaul further rocked the middle order after having Joshua Da Silva (8) caught by Leon Johnson.  The spinner has so far claimed six wickets in the match so far.  Yannic Cariah put 27 runs on the board but was dismissed lbw by Devendra Bishoo.  Yannick Ottley (13) and  Akeal Hosein (5) close the day as the not out batsmen with a further 280 runs needed for safety.

     

  • Smith set to join Gladiators for EPL Smith set to join Gladiators for EPL

    Retired Windies batsman Dwayne Smith is expected to head to Asia for the upcoming Everest Premier League where he will represent the Bhairahawa Gladiators.

    The much-travelled power-hitter will bring plenty of experience to the Napal-based franchise as the tournament head into its fourth edition.

     The 36-year-old Smith, a former Windies batting all-rounder who made 255 appearances for the regional team, has played for over 14 T20 franchises.  He most recently appeared for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).  Smith currently averages 26.23 and has played 337 matches.

    The signing of the West Indian veteran proved a source of excitement for Gladiators captain Sharad Vesawkar.

    "I still can’t believe that the powerhouse of West Indies Cricket and IPL for a long time, Dwayne Smith will be playing under me in the upcoming season of EPL,” Vesawkar said.

    “This will do a world of good to the team’s top order and also serve as an exciting opportunity to all the players especially the young ones to observe how the greats go about their game.”

  • CWI must stick to commitment of sharing Windies cricket around region - Grave CWI must stick to commitment of sharing Windies cricket around region - Grave

    Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave has insisted the board will look to continue its objective of spreading the sport across regional venues.

    Insularity and some amount of bias have often been charges leveled at those who select which grounds will be picked to host international cricket on various West Indies tours.  International grounds in bigger countries have often been given the nod but Graves insists it might not be the case in the future.

    “The highest crowds we experienced in this series was in Grenada.  Grenada didn’t have cricket between 2015 and 2019 and I think it is important we spread cricket around our international grounds,” Graves said.

    “I think we need to do far more as an organization to promote and market to make sure all the cricket fans and even the non-cricket fans know that the West Indies team is coming to their country to play,” he added.

    “I hope everyone understands that policy and we do our best to spread cricket around the region.”

    With the exception of Barbados the West Indies' first tour of the new year, against Ireland, was played in Grenada and St Kitts.  The New Zealand New Zealand tour in July will be hosted in Antigua, Dominica, and Guyana, with Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Jamaica.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.