The Sydney Roosters are naturally concerned for their leader but have trust in coach Brad Fittler, the Blues staff – some who are involved with the tricolours – as well as Cordner himself to make the right call.
Despite being contracted until the end of 2023, there is growing belief within the Roosters that Cordner, 28, will reassess his long-term future after next year’s World Cup, provided it goes ahead, and should he lead the Kangaroos to victory.
Lewis, who watched with concern as Cordner staggered off the field for a HIA before returning 20 minutes later, said: “I’ve enjoyed watching Boyd play over the years, he’s a good honest performer, there’s no shit in him and he’s not a dickhead off the field either.
“I’m not medically trained, but your long-term health has got to be the No.1 priority in life. That’s the one thing I’ve learned.
“You get to understand pretty quickly that while football plays a monstrous role in your life, it ain’t the most important thing there is. It’s the health and wellbeing and happiness of your family around you that has to take over that.
“I expect there will be serious concerns shown from the Roosters. The one thing you should never feel is you let yourself down by making a decision like that [to retire]. It’s such a hard call to make.
“I think you’d rather be told than you make that decision. If a doc tells you you have to retire, you take it a bit easier than making the decision yourself because you will always question the authority of your own decision and the common-sense behind it. If it’s another serious head knock, he’s certainly one match closer to making that decision.”
Cordner has come to dread the questions about his health, but said after the Blues’ 18-14 loss: “It’s not ideal to keep getting head knocks. I understand that. But I have the best people around me and I’ve sought the best advice during the year and I’ll keep doing that.”
Lewis said no player wanted to have the early retirement conversation, but had also seen several players continue to privately struggle with the after-effects of too many head knocks.
“They can be the finest actors in the country but they are still not able to convince you they’re not doing it tough because they are,” Lewis said.
Cordner’s Roosters teammates immediately knew the significance of him coming off for a HIA after what appeared an innocuous knock trying to tackle Felise Kaufusi.
“He’s had a few this year, which is a concern,” James Tedesco said. “We all know how tough he is. He puts his head in those spaces and will get a fair knocks here and there.”
Roosters’ co-captain and Queensland debutant Jake Friend said: “It is concerning. They wouldn’t have let him back on if there was anything of concern there with Boyd. Players are here to play, the medical team have to deal with that. I am sure they dealt with it correctly – well, I hope they dealt with it correctly.”
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.