Four-time Hawthorn premiership great John Platten concedes concussion can never be eradicated from the AFL, but says the league has made significant progress in its protocols.
Platten, having dealt with several serious head knocks in his Hall of Fame career, hopes there can be a “happy medium” in terms of concussion rates, although he admits the numbers accrued so far this season by an independent review are a worry.
Concussion campaigner Peter Jess fears the AFL men’s competition and associated second-tier competitions are on track to again post more than 100 concussions.
Jess, a long-time advocate for concussion awareness, and his team have tallied 17 AFL-listed players through the pre-season, including an ongoing three-month battle by Adelaide Crow Paul Seedsman, while St Kilda forward Jack Higgins was on Sunday added to the seven through the season proper so far.
“It is (a concern), but the game has changed (for the better),” Platten said. “There has to be a happy medium come into the game. They have taken away the head-high tackles, the front-on tackles, but, at the end of the day, you are never going to stop concussion because of the way they fall on to the ground and their head bangs on the ground.
“We are trying to minimise the concussions. Instead of having 100 like last year, we might have 90, 80, 70. If we can avoid that, that would be fantastic.”
Platten, a Brownlow medallist and Magarey Medal winner, said the manner in which concussion is now treated by clubs is significantly different to his time in the 1980s and ’90s, when players were tested by the doctor’s moving finger in front of the player’s eyes and had to pass a few memory-based questions.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a contact sport, and you are going to get hit from 360-degrees, and you don’t know when it’s going to come,” Platten said.
An example of that was the controversial clash between Willie Rioli and Matt Rowell in round one.
“To the credit of the AFL, especially over the last five or six years, they have brought in a concussion test where you have to come off the ground and get properly tested and, if there are signs of concussion, there is no chance of you coming back on the ground,” Platten added.