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'Doesn't do anyone any favours': Pies CEO slams News Corp criticism of defender's return from concussion

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7th February, 2024
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Collingwood chief executive Craig Kelly has slammed “sensationalist” reporting around Magpies defender Nathan Murphy returning to football after another concussion.

Murphy, 24, was cleared to continue his AFL career after suffering his most recent concussion during the Magpies’ grand-final win last September.

The premiership player was examined by the league’s concussion panel and was ultimately given the green light last December to resume playing.

Kelly took exception to an opinion piece published in News Corp outlets on Monday, questioning if Collingwood and the AFL had done the right thing by allowing Murphy to return to the field.

The story came about after Murphy was assessed following another head knock while being tackled at training last month.

Murphy was cleared by doctors to finish off the session and has continued training since.

“For anyone to write an article that says we’re not looking after our players and reports stuff (when) they haven’t got all the information, they’re not in the inner sanctum, is just wrong,” Kelly said when Collingwood announced a charity shield match against Richmond for Foodbank on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t do anyone any favours and sensationalises something that is really difficult we’re working through.


“I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to say we care deeply for our people (at Collingwood).

“Ruben Branson, our doctor, is one of the best doctors in Australia in regard to sport, if not the world.

“Every now and then people need to respect how difficult it is for players to read stuff that is not correctly reported.”

Nathan Murphy.

Nathan Murphy sustained a concussion during the 2023 grand final. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Former Sydney and St Kilda player Paddy McCartin was forced to retire in August after the league’s concussion experts recommended he stop playing.

Kelly declined to elaborate on the steps taken by Murphy that allowed him to be cleared to continue his career.

“This is a person’s life so I’m not going to disclose what happens with conversations with the doctors, with the confidential information that we share in a very tight group of people,” he said.


Last week, a minimum 21-day break between a concussion and the resumption of competitive contact or collision sport was announced for grassroots level in Australia.

The AFL is dealing with an ongoing class action from dozens of former players against the league relating to concussion.

Kelly was open to the possibility of AFL players signing waivers to prevent lawsuits relating to concussion in the future.

“I’m not the lawyer in the room so I’ll let that one work through with the powers to be,” he said.

“There’s some really interesting things we need to protect and look after the directors of our clubs because every board member is a director and every director is with a company liable and exposed.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate for our directors who basically give their time for nothing.


“It’s a really important one we address and look after those people as much as everyone else in our club.”

AFL football boss Laura Kane wouldn’t be drawn on Kelly’s suggestion of waivers.

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“We’ll continue to be guided by the medical experts,” she said on Tuesday when announcing rule changes ahead of the upcoming season.

“We have six people here (at the AFL) that are employed to work on concussion.

“We have doctors at all of our clubs and we’ll continue to be guided by the advice of those experts.”