Brisbane Lions captain Tom Rockliff has praised the AFL’s tight testing around concussion, saying “being a hero” has no place in the modern game.
Rockliff was knocked out in the opening minutes of the Lions’ round five loss against Gold Coast, and sat out the rest of the match before returning to play Carlton the following week.
He went straight to hospital after the incident that led to the suspension of Suns’ forward Steven May, and failed a written concussion test two days later.
“You used to see blokes get carried off and come back out 10 minutes later, which you don’t want to see. There’s no strength in being a hero going back out there after a concussion, it’s just not worth it any more.” – Tom Rockliff
However, Rockliff then passed three more tests – written and computer – before being given the green light to play the Blues eight days after the initial incident.
After watching first-hand former captain Jonathan Brown suffer repeated concussions before retiring midway through 2014, Rockliff said player safety was now the priority.
“It’s absolutely improved from where it used to be,” Rockliff said of the testing procedures.
“You used to see blokes get carried off and come back out 10 minutes later, which you don’t want to see.
“There’s no strength in being a hero going back out there after a concussion, it’s just not worth it any more.
“You don’t want to be brain dead at 40 or 45.
“Footy is the most important thing to nearly every player on a list, but you’ve also got to remember it’s a 10-15 year period of your life and you’ve still got so many years to live after that.”
Rockliff has had a difficult start to his captaincy reign, suffering broken ribs in round one against Collingwood that cost him two weeks on the sidelines.
The 25-year-old said he was still enduring significant pain from the injury and would have to manage it until the bye.
“I feel it after the game, the next two days are the worst,” Rockliff said.
“I don’t do a lot of training, so that’s probably hard at the moment. I’m sure in the coming weeks that’ll get better and I’ll be able to train with the main group and get the main sessions completed.
“The pain levels were quite high coming back.
“I feel like I’m contributing out there.”