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Geoff Parkes

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Joined October 2012

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Geoff is a Melbourne based sports fanatic and writer, who started contributing to The Roar in 2012, originally under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Conflict; the Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy was released in Dec 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit www.geoffparkes.com Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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Rennie didn’t pick him in his squad a few weeks ago Mo, and while it’s true that JOC has been injured since then, I’d be surprised to see him back in.

Super Rugby tipping panel Week 15: If you ain't first you're last

Absolutely a big motivating factor, robbo!

Although not as much as wanting to put a stamp on their areas of improvement and rule things off for the year in a positive frame of mind.

Super Rugby tipping panel Week 15: If you ain't first you're last

Thanks for the invite Phil, but I’m happy to sit.

Super Rugby tipping panel Week 15: If you ain't first you're last

That’s it, mate. It’s all in the timing.

Super Rugby from the start of the year, club rugby as per normal, and then when both are finished, a national domestic 2nd tier comp which features the best club players plus the squad guys and non-internationals from the SR squads.

Pretty close to what the NRC was. I don’t think club rugby needs messing with.

Here’s a shopping list for Rugby Australia, and there’s not a single NRL player on it

For a supposed throw-away team of second-stringers, that Blues pack doesn’t look too bad to me.

A blend of young talent and SR experience, 4 AB’s, and some guys who came off the bench last week and got them across the line v the Brumbies. They’re not giving this match away by any stretch.

Rugby News: Blues claim 'healthy respect' after 15 changes for Tahs clash, Reds' 'tough ask', Rebel's Force pledge

The positive for that is that you better tap into some of the tribalism that works so well at club level.

The disadvantage is that you create winners and losers at club level, with the best players gravitating to those 4 clubs, either because they want to play at the highest level, or they get paid/poached to move.

So it ends up being a semi-professional, half-half solution, which probably does as much harm as it does good. The ‘losing’ clubs will then either revert to being fully amateur and accept playing at a lower level, or they will spend money trying to be one of the top 4. Which they may or may not be equipped for, and which for some, takes them away from their roots and will potentially send them broke.

Here’s a shopping list for Rugby Australia, and there’s not a single NRL player on it

Yeah, good-on you mate…

I’ll tell you what I did appreciate, that’s the Sharks putting an end to this nonsense that red cards/send offs ruin matches because the result is then determined by that event.

The fewer men they had the better they played and the worse the Warriors played. You could visibly see them lift their energy and work rate to compensate – highly impressive and exactly what should happen when you go down a man or two.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Exactly, Bourkos.

Here’s a shopping list for Rugby Australia, and there’s not a single NRL player on it

Agree with all of that, 1997. It’s too big a jump to run it concurrently with Super Rugby.

Not just the extra players, but coaches too. And support staff. The idea would be for assistant coaches in SR to shift into a head coach role for the A side, broadening their experience.

Here’s a shopping list for Rugby Australia, and there’s not a single NRL player on it

If I can get one thing across Nat, hopefully that’s to paint the picture that people like Alan Pearce and Michael Buckland are definitely not zealots hell-bent on stopping people participating in football sports. Far from it.

They are measured and cautious, highly professional and don’t have any agenda other than to advance the science in their field and, as a result, hopefully improve outcomes for participants.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Something like that should be a huge story Ray, but that’s not how the specialist rugby league media works.

There was a similar instance recently in AFL where there was serious conflict between Melbourne Demons coach Simon Goodwin and his club doctor over treatment of a player with a potentially serious head injury. At the end of the day, because Goodwin had just delivered a premiership, his president came out and publicly backed him and the doctor ended up leaving the club.

Again, should have been a massive story, but that’s not how the AFL media works either. These are powerful bodies (the NRL and AFL) who have successfully for years managed to control the media narrative for their sports.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Re the UK, there is high publicity around the concussion issue in all three major football codes.

The Dawn Astle Foundation is a well known advocacy group, headed by Jeff Astle’s wife – he was found to have been suffering from CTE linked to a career of heading footballs.

Progressive Rugby is growing increasingly prominent as an advocacy group and yes, there are now a large number of players, headed by Steve Thompson, who are suing World Rugby. Steve’s book recently came out as well and has captured high attention.

But rugby league is now also prominent – as mentioned in the article, Bobbie Goulding is part of a group taking legal action against the code.

All these three sports, plus the AFL, have challenges ahead, and it can be fairly argued that all of them have not acted as prudently or as quickly as they could have, and have to an extent, hidden behind the global concussion statement.

In my view, rugby league in Australia stands out because the NRL has been the slowest to take any action. That is starting to change now with respect to foul play and management of concussed players, but is still far from where it needs to be. As with most things out of NRL headquarters, the process tends to be reactive and/or knee-jerk rather than being part of any cohesive strategic plan.

And while rugby union is at least along the path a bit when it comes to looking at tackle heights and other measures, rugby league isn’t examining that at all.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Exactly, Nick.

The irony is in how people like Gus say that the game risks being taken over by ‘do-gooders’ if this kind of thing is highighted, whereas its the opposite that applies.

If people within the game stopped being so dismissive and protective and were to get on the front foot and try and solve the problem from within the game, there’s actually far more chance of them protecting most of the essence of the sport for the future.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

There’s plenty of scope in between Womblat.

When I spoke with Peter Sterling about this, he acknowledged that the game needs to look at how better it can reward ‘legs tackles’ and shift the focus away from multiple defenders entering contact areas upright.

Not saying it’s easy, but those kinds of conversations and examinations aren’t even being had, nor is there even any acknowledgement from administrators and most commentators that those kinds of conversations should be had.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

As I will too, Richie. Although I’ve had to give the Warriors a rest for a bit. That debacle against the Sharks when up by 13 v 11 was too much, even for me. 😂

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

In my view Marileckie, the NRL’s intransigence on this issue is only made all the more disappointing in light of what happened in the NFL.

Why wait until a whole lot of players eventually gather together and sue the living daylights out of you? Why not get on the front foot, show proper concern for players and deal with the matter proactively?

A fund for injured ex-players, law and judiciary reviews, a proper look at tackle techniques, culture change and so on. The NRL doesn’t have the money the NFL has, but it has plenty enough.

The same applies to other sports.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

It’s difficult for medical researchers Nat because they always want more funding, and if you remove certain avenues of funding from the equation, then the financial equation can become difficult for them.

But that’s how the real academic world works. There is a clear conflict of interest line. People have the choice whether or not to accept money from sports organisations or commercial businesses to fund their research, and if they choose to take that money, do so knowing that in the eyes of their peers, their work will have an asterix attached.

Other researchers seek funding and grants from other ‘neutral’ sources and sometimes suffer financially as a result, but do so in the knowledge that their professional reputations remain intact.

In the main, the sports bodies don’t actually need to commission research. In many cases they do it to give the appearance that they are throwing money at the problem and doing everything they can, when in reality the research is designed to deliver pre-determined outcomes which almost always call for “more research”, and the whole process is little more than a charade to buy them more time.

There is enough relevant, independent research already being done for sports bodies to act upon should they wish.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Good post Adam. What Royce Simmons is doing is absolutely true to his character, and to the culture of league as he sees it.

It’s a delicate path to tread, but I think we can acknowledge that on one hand, yet still have people within the game acknowledge the concussion issue, and set about properly exploring what to do about it.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

It’s true Womblat that this is an issue that could potentially escalate out of the control of all contact sports. For example there is emerging research that suggests that significant brain injury is occurring from the whiplash motion occurred in collisions where there isn’t even direct contact to the head.

If so, these are existential concerns for all football codes. It is hard to imagine mothers of the future encouraging their children to take up sports where there is this kind of inherent risk.

If that is the way it’s going to go, then that will happen anyway, over time. My view is that rather wait to be “hijacked”, there is an opportunity for sports to get ahead of the play, acknowledge that there is a potential threat to their code, and be proactive about implementing changes and new safety measures.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Hi Adam, thanks for this post.

No question that rugby union is by no means an angel in any of this. Ditto the AFL.

The main difference in those sports compared to league is that there are more people within those sports, including players, who are prepared to be advocates for change.

The situation in league – highlighted here with this walk – is that there is a widespread entrenched culture where this stuff can’t even be honestly discussed.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

That’s it, BD. Almost everyone I know in and around this issue, including the medical experts and researchers, are being very careful not to reach absolute conclusions where they are not scientifically provable beyond any doubt.

But at the same time, it is wilful blindness to look at the high number of ex-players suffering debilitating life-ending and life-threatening conditions, and ignore the likelihood that there is a link to the head injuries they suffered over their careers.

In simple terms, sports bodies have a choice to hide behind that veil of ‘no absolute certainty’ or they can get on the front foot, and without having to admit liability for anything, set about proactively looking at how to make their sport safer to play, without it losing it’s unique essence.

That’s not easy to do, but the likelihood that they will eventually have to be dragged to the table to do this, instead of doing so willingly, is imo a sad indictment.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

I haven’t diagnosed Simmons with anything, jimmmy.
Happy to have a rational discussion but not if you’re going to make stuff up.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

I was as moved as anyone when Simmons won the 91 grand final, jimmmy. Nobody who loves and follows sport forgets stuff like that. The article is respectful of his past deeds, and of his walk, and his effort to raise so much money for a worthy cause.

None of which means that there shouldn’t be an honest discussion about why he and so many other players are suffering these conditions in the first place and what might be able to be done to prevent other players suffering in the future.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

Hi Nat

No that inference is not quite correct. It’s a big story but to try and precis it…

Dr McCrory, as chair of the Concussion in Sport Group, has been criticised over time by many other concussion experts for conflict of interest issues with respect to accepting funding for research from sports bodies, and this being linked to ‘soft’ or inconclusive research outcomes, plus stewardship of concussion protocols that have been adopted by sports around the world (including rugby league, AFL and rugby union), that are viewed by those experts as inadequate.

He was recently outed for a number of plagiarism events, and his credibility is now shredded. This was done by a UK journalist – he wasn’t discredited by the NRL and AFL, albeit the AFL have now launched an internal inquiry, given that they have been heavily reliant on his advice.

There have also been reports of AFL players threatening to sue McCrory individually, for his role in the management and treatment of their concussion issues.

There is a new, updated concussion statement due this year. One possible outcome is that McCrory will be replaced by a similar acolyte, concussion and HIA protocols will remain similarly watery, and sports will effectively continue to be provided with a shield to hide behind, should they elect to do so.

Another potential outcome is that this might be an opportunity to produce a more diligent and up to date statement, including more rigorous concussion management, including HIA testing – taking into account more recent research and also technological advances around pitch-side testing and so on.

If the latter happens (and there is no guarantee it will), this would force the AFL, NRL and World Rugby – among others – to reshape their management of concussion.

There is of course nothing to stop any of these organisations acting ahead of this, which is my thrust. In the UK, there is a far more open and mature debate on the issue that is occurring. It’s better understood that nobody is out to destroy any sport, there is simply more honesty around accepting the link between concussion and these life-changing conditions, and increasingly more consideration given to adapting how sports are played.

For some reason, here in Australia, we seem incapable of having such a discussion – particularly in rugby league. Which is what is happening here with Royce Simmons. We’re all being encouraged to fete a war hero, but nobody is allowed to mention the war.

'Uneasy logic': The opportunity lost and difficult truth being ignored in Royce Simmons’ Alzheimer’s walk

I’m picking six weeks less the 50%, Colvin, but we’ll see what happens.
Bit of a moot point now anyway, either way he’s done for this season.

The Wrap: Finals footy arrives two weeks early as Blues and Brumbies slug it out in Canberra

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