Home Australia ‘Fear and anxiety’: Lewis’s CTE plea as concussions end Sharks star’s career

‘Fear and anxiety’: Lewis’s CTE plea as concussions end Sharks star’s career

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Dale Finucane is carried off the field by a coach

Rugby league legend Wally Lewis has detailed the constant “fear and anxiety” he lives with due to probable CTE, as Cronulla co-captain Dale Finucane was forced to retire immediately due to repeated concussions.

Two-time premiership-winning middle forward Finucane announced his decision at a press conference on Tuesday, saying he was “extremely disappointed” but had no choice but to end his playing career.

Lewis called on the Australian government to invest $18 million to fund CTE awareness and support programs recommended by the Concussion and CTE Coalition in a speech to the Australian National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old retired as a sports presenter last year and explained how his condition had impacted both his work and his daily life.

“Imagine a life where the tapestry of memories that define your very essence begins to unravel,” he said.

“Threads of names, faces and cherished moments fade away, leaving behind a canvas of uncertainty.

“I live with constant fear and anxiety of disappointing people. This is my reality and the reality of all those living with dementia. One thing we do know is that CTE is the only form of dementia that can be prevented, and we only have one brain.

“I once had the self-confidence to succeed: to lead my team to victory, to be the captain of my country, to remember the strengths and weaknesses of my opponents, to organize myself and feel in control of my life.

“Now, much of that confidence has been taken away from me by the effects of probable CTE dementia.

“My daily life is no longer blessed with confidence in my daily activities. Now, I find it difficult to accept that it has been filled with fear and shame because of how forgetful I have become.”

Finucane’s career came to an end after he left the field with his final blow to the head during Cronulla’s third round loss to Wests Tigers, with the 32-year-old estimating his concussions had been “two digits” since his debut in Canterbury. in 2012.

He consulted a number of independent doctors, the Rugby League Players’ Association and its lawyers, current and former players, and Sharks staff to determine whether he could continue playing.

“I exhausted all avenues,” he said.

“There was no decision to make. The medical advice was for me to retire.

“I’m a little numb to that feeling at the moment, it probably hasn’t affected me at all because we’ve been going through a pretty strict process since the Tigers game.”

Finucane said he was “numb” at the feeling of his rugby league career coming to an end after repeated concussions during the year.(Getty Images: Jeremy Ng)

Lewis cited Finucane’s retirement in his speech and emphasized the importance of teaching elementary-level children to understand the risks of repeated blows to the head.

“Players need to understand that just because you can’t always see a brain injury, like a broken arm, it needs to be taken seriously,” he said.

“It’s not a badge of honor to come back on the field with a head injury, it’s carelessness.”

Sharks staff and players crowded into the club’s press room on their day off on Tuesday to support Finucane, who finalized his decision last Thursday.

He joins other recent players Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Andrew Davey who retired early due to concussion.

A team man to the end, Finucane didn’t tell his teammates he was retiring until Tuesday morning, fearing any earlier announcement could distract from Braden Hamlin-Uele’s 100-game milestone and Samuel’s debut. Stonestreet in the NRL in round seven.

Revered for his uncompromising work ethic and physicality, Finucane has been a “symbol of success” at Cronulla, coach Craig Fitzgibbon said.

“It’s one of the biggest (signings) our club will ever make,” Fitzgibbon said of bringing Finucane to the Sharks in 2022.

“To have players like Dale who embody that team spirit, and then he’s just a complete savage in every way. He’s a great man.

“Our club will never forget his time here.”

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