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NRL slammed over $250,000 pledge for concussion research

Folkes-Shaw, whose father was revealed as the first Australian rugby league player diagnosed with CTE, was asked about her message to the NRL.

“My dad played, my uncles played, my husband, my brother, my cousins – I would hope they would just care,” Folkes-Shaw said.

“It’s a duty of care and I get asked the question by someone how Dad would have helped as a coach if he was asked to take his best player off the field after a concussion. I would hope he would and I think he would have cared about their wellbeing.

“Obviously they pledged some money last week and the discussion has been about how I feel about where that has gone. But they need to stop doing what they are doing for show and actually care about their players and families. That’s why we spoke out. Hopefully they see that it’s real.

“I absolutely put my hand up to do everything I can to make that case.”

Fenech revealed his own health battles to the Herald, which include memory lapses and blackouts, in a bid to highlight the plight of some contact sport participants. He was particularly moved by the struggles of his great friend Mario Fenech and is exploring fundraising opportunities to assist the former South Sydney hooker and other affected players.

Boxing champion Jeff Fenech and (inset) in his heyday.

Boxing champion Jeff Fenech and (inset) in his heyday.Credit:Getty

“Some of our greatest rugby league players, the people who made our game, the great Parramatta and St George players, they are respected in the newspapers when they tell their stories about life after sport,” Fenech said.

“[The NRL] don’t give a damn about them. Rugby league just got a $2 billion [broadcast] deal from TV and they donate $250,000 [towards concussion research]. That’s a joke.

“Maybe they will start listening to these players when they start getting sued.”

Three Sydney law firms have publicly flagged their intention to commence class actions against the NRL for its handling of head knocks.

Former St Louis Cardinals defensive tackle Scotts, the first Australian to win a football scholarship in the US, felt there was an “agenda” behind the NRL’s decision to invest in a long-term study rather than initiatives such as the brain bank.

“I want results sooner,” Scotts said. “There are lawsuits happening. That’s the foxes protecting the henhouse.”

Scotts said that his brain health had improved significantly over the past decade after addressing the issue via healthy eating and fitness choices, as well as a range of cognitive exercises that have improved his baseline results.

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“I do want to be a positive story,” he said. “There’s been a lot of doom and gloom right now [surrounding head injuries].”

The NRL was contacted, but did not wish to comment.

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