LONDON: Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward has been forced to retire at the age of 27 due to concussions, saying he cannot put his health at any further risk.
The rugby league loose forward, a two-time Grand Final winner with the Rhinos, has called on the sport to become more proactive in how it protects players to avoid another generation from becoming “guinea pigs” in research.
Ward says he suffers on a daily basis with symptoms caused by the concussions, which occurred on January 19 and February 2 last year.
“I struggle with migraines, dizziness, motion sickness, sensitivity to light and screens, short-term memory issues, slurred speech, and an inability to exercise or do daily tasks without irritating my symptoms,” he said in a statement released to the PA news agency.
“I love the game of rugby league. I am immensely proud to have competed on some of the biggest stages next to childhood heroes and test myself to the absolute limit while feeling the incredible buzz from the Leeds fans after being one myself as a youngster.”
Ward has already witnessed the impact motor neurone disease has had on his friend and team-mate Rob Burrow, and says a more proactive approach is needed.
“With the news about Rob and the current climate of rugby union players, I cannot help but ask the questions that need to be asked,” he said.
“I am left motivated to help get our sport to a place where it can ensure the players’ long-term safety whilst keeping the beauty and grit of the game.”
Source: The News