Liam Fulton accepts dementia could be part of playing league
March 18, 2014 - 8:01PM
Sports reporter & Video journalist
Wests Tigers forward Liam Fulton has provided an insight into why the NRL - and its clubs’ doctors - need to protect some players from themselves.
Fulton said that after being knocked out on at least 10 occasions he’d all but accepted dementia could be the long-term legacy of his football career.
Fulton was stood down from playing in the Wests Tigers victory over the Gold Coast on Sunday after being knocked out cold and stretchered from the field with his neck in a brace in the opening round match against St George Illawarra.The 29-year-old veteran of more than 150 first grade games said on Tuesday that he not only felt fine to back up against the Gold Coast, but footballers ought to know what they’re in for when they sign on for a contact sport.
“I’ve been concussed that many times that I’m probably beyond it now, to be honest,” he said when asked if the focus on brain trauma from playing rugby league had scared him. "I’ve been knocked over 10 times so …
“To be honest I saw the articles in the paper and I read them all and I still wanted to [keep playing]. As I said before I’ve been knocked out that many times if I’m going to get dementia I’m going to get it, it’s just what it is; nothing I can do about it.”
“You get paid well and I think everyone knows that there’s going to be head knocks involved and if you don’t want to cop a head knock you don’t play really. There’s things happen in footy, get your head in the wrong place or … it’s just how it happens.”
Fulton said while he did not have a proper grasp of the concussion rules he understood why the Wests Tigers medical and coaching staff rested him.
“I got knocked out, I didn’t move, I got stretchered off,” he said. "I probably just left it to the doctors; my wife wasn’t really keen on me to play but I said ‘listen if the doctors say I can play, I can play’ … the doctor said I couldn’t play, so I didn’t play. My missus [was] tearing up seeing me in the neck brace on the stretcher … I don’t even remember her being in there to be honest … I still remember when I got home I saw [the knock out] on the news and I didn’t even know that I got stretchered off …
“I suppose it was pretty bad but this is what we do for a living and head knocks will happen.”
Fulton conceded he perhaps exemplified the reason why doctors needed to have the power to rest players who’d received a head trauma.
“That’s why you have to leave it up to the medical staff, when you’re knocked out you’re not really thinking straight, you just got to do what you’re told,” he said.
However, Fulton said after training at Concord Oval on Tuesday he thought he would have been fine to back up against the Titans…
“Towards the start of the week I was a bit tired but later in the week I woke up feeling like I could play,” he said. “Obviously they were already at the Gold Coast and all you can do is speak out and say ‘I want to play’ but if the staff rule you out what can you do? There’s nothing I can do about it, it’s just how it was.”
Fulton was expected to take his place in the Wests pack against South Sydney on Friday night, a job prop Aaron Woods described as a tough challenge after the Rabbitohs were beaten by Manly.
“They’ll be a lot more focused this week. They started [their season] off well against the Roosters but they probably weren’t up to their standard last week,” he said.
“We’re going to need to be switched on.”
God, seeing Liam get taken off again tonight made me very uneasy. I know it wasn’t as bad as last week but gee he’s had his fair share of knocks
Agree. I’d be inclined to rest him next week and bring Paterson back in to be honest.
Yeah I’d be leaning towards this as well.
Fulton you are a legend and play above your weight and went to England to assist salary cap pressure but I want you to have a quality life after NRL is over.
Please WT Doctors rest him for a couple of weeks.
Tell BMM this is your career your playing for so grasp it with both hands.
In all fairness, if the quacks think Liams is good to go, well power to him. He looked great tonight.
@Black Orange White:
No point risking his life. Rest him for a month or so.
I agree, your well being is far more important than footy.
you only have a limited time in footy, nobody wants to see any players past or present struggle to do things we take for granted.
he will possibly one day have a family, and I would hope he can enjoy them.
it’s a huge concern for him and his wife.
his wife must go through alot watching him knocked out so often.
while watching him yesterday i couldn’t help but think if there was any player that worked so hard from marker after completing a tackle.
love his heart in defense.
always so under rated during the off season.