Rugby League

Greenberg hopes Folkes admission breaks down barriers

Todd Greenberg hopes the acknowledgement from Steve Folkes' family that the Canterbury legend was the first rugby league player to be diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition will help break down barriers for other players of his generation.

A day after Folkes' family confirmed to the Herald the former Bulldogs player and coach was diagnosed with CTE – a brain disease linked with repetitive head trauma – the NRL chief executive promised to continue ploughing money into concussion research and development.

Progress: Todd Greenberg.Credit:AAP

Greenberg drove the game's strict concussion protocols that were introduced in 2014 while he was the NRL head of football. He insists the NRL will continue investing in concussion research and guidelines at all levels of the game.

"There's no doubt we'll continue to apportion more money in this area, whether that's investment in research or whether that's more investment to provide opportunities for former players to come forward or if it's investment into grassroots levels of the game to ensure we have our safe-play protocols," he said.

"We're spending an enormous amount of money in the elite part of the game, whether that's technology on sidelines or increased resources for our players. There's no doubt as we learn more we'll continue to invest more. This is just a very important part of the game right now."

Three law firms have announced plans to launch class actions against the NRL over its handling of head knocks.

There are no suggestions the NRL will find itself in a similar predicament to the NFL, which has already paid out more than $US500 million ($712m)  in claims after being found to have hid evidence of the health dangers of the sport to its players.

"All of us appreciate Steve played in a very different era," Greenberg said. "There were obviously different protocols, different views and probably a very different culture inside the game.

"I think we've made it clear over the last couple of years and recently as this issue has continued to create debate that the NRL's management now of head injuries is what we would say is global best practice.

"It's continuing to evolve and we're continuing to update our policies as we continue to learn more about both the science of what we're dealing with as well as the research. I don't think we can ever sit still on this issue. We'll continue to update and evolve as best as we can."

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