Nathan Murphy in worrying new development amid Collingwood hero's concussion woes

Collingwood's premiership defender suffered the 10th concussion of his career in last year's AFL grand final.

Seen here, Collingwood AFL star Nathan Murphy.
Nathan Murphy won't play any pre-season matches for Collingwood as he continues to recover from his concussion from the AFL grand final in 2023. Pic: Getty

Collingwood premiership defender Nathan Murphy has ruled himself out of the club's AFL pre-season matches in the wake of his most recent concussion scare. Murphy was subbed out in the first quarter of the Magpies' thrilling grand final win over Brisbane in September after suffering concussion from a nasty head collision.

The incident was the tenth time Murphy has been concussed in his AFL playing career, with the 24-year-old examined by the league's concussion panel and given the green light to resume playing in December. He then left a Collingwood pre-season training session in January after being dumped to the ground in a heavy tackle from Nick Daicos, before being cleared to rejoin the session.

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The decision to allow Murphy to return to the fray sparked backlash, with the defender now revealing he's not in "the right frame of mind" to partake in full-contact training or match simulations where the risk of another head knock is greater. The Pies defender says the club understands his decision and has been fully supportive of his need to ease back into full contact work.

“The club has been terrific in the way they have managed me but the reality is knowing the way I play the game, I have been finding it difficult to get myself in the right frame of mind to participate in match simulation,” Murphy said. “I feel great and have the right support around me but the facts are I haven’t played a match since the grand final so right now, I am enjoying coming into the club, learning and participating in all the meetings, and taking part in training, all of the conditioning and gym work.

“It is important for me and everyone around me to ensure I am in the right frame of mind to be able to return to match simulation and AFL matches, which I have every intention of doing. The club continues to support me through this and I hope people can understand and respect that.”

Nathan Murphy suffered a head knock that saw him subbed out of the AFL grand final. Image: Getty
Nathan Murphy suffered a head knock that saw him subbed out of the AFL grand final. Image: Getty

Nathan Murphy's welfare top priority for Collingwood

Collingwood football boss Graham Wright confirmed Murphy would remain on a specialised training program as he works towards being ready for the start of the season. Wright was at pains to stress that the club's top priority remained Murphy's wellbeing and he won't be pressured into returning to action before he's ready.

“Nathan’s welfare, like the welfare of all our athletes and people, remains paramount. The last game Nathan played was the 2023 Grand Final and Nathan, together with everyone at the club, have since worked closely with him on his individual training program,” Wright said. “Nathan will continue his individual program over the pre-season period and will return to match simulation when he is ready to do so.”

The latest development comes after Collingwood chief executive Craig Kelly slammed reports questioning how Murphy was cleared to return to football after the latest concussion. Kelly took exception to a News Corp opinion piece in February that questioned if Collingwood and the AFL had done the right thing by allowing the defender to return.

It came after the 24-year-old left the February training session, before being cleared by doctors to finish off the session. "For anyone to write an article that says we're not looking after our players and reports stuff (when) they haven't got all the information, they're not in the inner sanctum, is just wrong," Kelly said.

"It doesn't do anyone any favours and sensationalises something that is really difficult we're working through. I'm glad we've had the opportunity to say we care deeply for our people (at Collingwood).

Kelly's comments came after numerous fans called for Murphy to consider retiring from the sport to protect his long-term health. Four players retired from the AFL last year after complications from repeated head knocks, with Sydney's Paddy McCartin, Brisbane's Marcus Adams, Adelaide's Paul Seedsman and Hawthorn's Max Lynch all deciding to hang up the boots.

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