Riewoldt backs AFL on concussion policy

Jack Riewoldt is confident all that can be done is being done around concussion in AFL.
Jack Riewoldt is confident all that can be done is being done around concussion in AFL.

The sight of Jack Riewoldt, on all fours, peering out from the stairs behind the MCG bench was the source of some mirth a decade ago but a lot has changed since then.

Riewoldt, legs barely under him, was helped from the ground between two trainers in the first quarter of a round two, 2011, clash with St Kilda after his head smacked the turf following an ambitious marking attempt.

The clearly-concussed Richmond spearhead was chastised in some quarters for remonstrating with medical staff who, quite rightly, were about to substitute him out of the game.

Riewoldt was asked about the incident in the aftermath of Graham "Polly" Farmer's shock brain disease diagnosis on Thursday.

The AFL had already taken steps forward in the treatment of concussion and head knocks back then.

But he believes his misfortune early in that drawn thriller is an example of how much league policy and public perceptions have continued to change for the better.

"You don't think straight when you've got concussion so I wasn't thinking straight that night," Riewoldt said.

"I look back on that and it scares me a bit more than anything else really.

"I know it looks funny and it looks a bit unusual, but it's clear vision of what concussion can do to you and how it can make you think."

Researchers have revealed that Farmer has been posthumously diagnosed with Stage III chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) following tests on the former champion ruckman's brain.

Farmer is the first AFL player to be diagnosed with the disease believed to be caused by repeated head knocks and concussions, which is only able to be diagnosed after death.

Like many of his AFL colleagues, Riewoldt has concerns about his health now and long after his decorated career is over.

But he is also confident all that can be done is being done.

"The game has come so far in so many aspects but the medical area is where it's accelerated more than anywhere else," he said.

"There's just a huge emphasis on player safety, especially when head injuries are involved.

"It's quite scary to hear what has come from the Graham "Polly" Farmer scans ... that's the first case but we've been taking about head safety for a long time already.

"We're not down the path where it's happened a lot and we're reacting to it, we're ahead of the game."

Australian Associated Press