NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: Concussion worries, George Burgess banned and State of Origin latest
Last Updated: 03/07/19 12:22pm
Jenna Brooks has the latest from the NRL as the dangers of concussion resurface, James Graham makes a massive statement and George Burgess finds himself in big trouble.
James Graham has become the first current rugby league player to announce he will donate his brain upon death in a bid to help aid further research into concussion.
The decision comes after a recent study revealed two former rugby league players died of a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition linked with repeated head traumas.
The England international has suffered a number of concussions in his playing career and views the decision as a way of being proactive.
"I sent my papers off on Wednesday (to donate his brain) so I guess when I die my brain and spinal cord, if I'm in Sydney, will be going to the Sydney University for them to look at, examine and hopefully some good can come of this," Burgess said.
In the United States 110 of 111 brains of deceased NFL players tested have been confirmed to have CTE - a result which, naturally, has implicated the future of the sport.
Former players Peter Sterling and Mark Carroll have joined Graham in donating to the cause.
The NRL are bracing themselves after two Sydney firms joined forces and revealed they are looking at commencing a class action over the code's protection of players from concussion.
Burgess in trouble
Has George Burgess played his final game for South Sydney Rabbitohs and potentially in the NRL?
The prop has been banned for nine games despite swearing on his children's lives he did not deliberately poke Robbie Farah in the eye.
It's the longest ban issued by the judiciary since Parramatta Eels' Junior Paulo was handed a suspension of the same length in 2015 for a dangerous tackle.
The incident occurred in the opening minutes of Thursday's 14-9 defeat to the Tigers. Burgess said he apologised to his former team-mate and accepted responsibility, but denied he deliberately poked Farah.
"Things are going a million miles an hour...I swear on my kids' lives I didn't know I had my hand in his eyes," Burgess said.
The England international is being criticised by many in the sport, including Johnathan Thurston.
"Gouging is one and biting is the other, two of the lowest acts you can do on the field," Thurston told Channel Nine.
Even his Rabbitohs and England coach Wayne Bennett admitted it was not right.
"There was just no need to put himself in that position for a start," Bennett said.
"I'm not condemning him for it in the sense that I don't know whether actually his fingers made contact with the eye or not. But the point is it was just totally unwarranted."
It's not the first time the prop has been accused of such an action. He was suspended for four games for a similar incident on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak during England's Test against New Zealand last November.
Burgess is out of contract at the end of the season and continues to be linked with a move to Super League.
Both New South Wales and Queensland have been dealt blows ahead of the State of Origin decider on July 10.
The Blues will be without Tariq Sims after he was unable to overturn his ban at an NRL judiciary hearing.
Sims was facing three-games out after originally being charged with a grade-two dangerous contact charge on North Queensland Cowboys captain Michael Morgan.
Had the back row accepted the early guilty plea and successfully had the charge downgraded, he could have been available for NSW. David Klemmer is expected to replace him for the July 10 showdown in Sydney.
The Blues will also be missing Nathan Cleary after he failed to overcome an ankle injury, so Newcastle half-back Mitchell Pearce has been brought in as his replacement.
Possibly the biggest blow is to Queensland, who will be without full-back Kalyn Ponga.
The Newcastle Knights star suffered a calf strain during Game II of Origin in Perth and will spend the next two weeks on the sidelines. The injury kept him out of the Knights 26-12 win over the Broncos on Saturday.
Ponga's club is hoping he will be back for their Round 18 match against the Bulldogs.