Former Australian captain and Sydney Roosters great Boyd Cordner ended his rugby league career on Monday after a long battle with concussion symptoms forced him out of the game at the age 29.
The star forward, who has taken part in 20 tests for the Kangaroos, including two World Cup wins, said he was not ready to play with his health.
He hasn’t played since leaving the field after a blow to the head in last year’s Home State opener between New South Wales and Queensland, but was expected to return soon.
“The last six months have been a very difficult time in my life with regards to my blows to the head and my health,” he told reporters, choking back tears.
“I felt really good while training, I was training really hard. Far from football, when I was at home, it was a different story for me. I felt different.
“I spent hours and hours and sleepless nights trying to find a way for me to push it aside and keep playing,” he added. “My heart told me I wanted to play and my mind and my head told me I didn’t. “
Cordner won three prime ministerial positions with the Roosters in 2013, 2018 and 2019 and had two years left to run.
Australian Rugby Union Commission chairman Peter V’landys hailed him as one of the great leaders.
“He has reached the absolute top of the rugby league and is leaving the game after having done everything – Premierships, Origins and World Cups,” he said.
Cordner joins Roosters co-captain Jake Friend, 31, on early retirement after also succumbing to the effects of severe blows to the head this year.
Awareness of concussions in the sport has grown since the American National Football League agreed to a billion dollar settlement in 2015 to resolve thousands of lawsuits filed by former players with neurological conditions.
In sport-mad Australia, various codes, including rugby union, rugby league and cricket, have all sought to strengthen their protocols on the matter.
It was only recently that the NRL decreed a crackdown on head-up tackles in an effort to eradicate the high number of concussions that continue to plague the game.
© 2021 AFP