Mark Carroll calls for NRL to take action after 'horrible' CTE revelation

The former Manly Sea Eagles forward is calling for the NRL to do more for past players.

·4-min read
Mark Carroll, pictured here with his wife and daughter.
Mark Carroll has opened up on his CTE diagnosis. Image: Instagram/Getty

Rugby league hard man Mark 'Spudd' Carroll has spoken out for the first time after being told he's likely suffering from CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in his brain. The Manly Sea Eagles great is calling for the NRL to step up and fund brain scans for former players after revealing he's been told he suffers from CTE - a brain condition linked to repeated head injuries.

While CTE can't be properly diagnosed until after death, Carroll says specialists have told him he's definitely got it. Speaking to 7News on Monday night, Carroll said he was forced into action after watching a confronting segment about Mario Fenech in which the South Sydney great and his family opened up about his battle with dementia. After undergoing tests on his brain, Carroll was told he suffers from CTE.

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“Mate, I just broke up in tears,” he said. “I said, ‘am I going to die?’ It was a week after Paul Green took his life. It’s bloody horrible, you dish it out but you don’t want to hear the consequences.”

The former NSW State of Origin and Australian Kangaroos forward is now calling for the NRL to help former players more. “There is a duty of care, I really believe that,” he said.

Mark Carroll, pictured here celebrating after a game for Australia in 1995.
Mark Carroll celebrates after a game for Australia in 1995. (Photo by Getty Images)

“Look after players in my era and also my heroes in the era before that and the eras before that. $900 for a PET scan. We’re not covered with Medicare or any health fund but any player who’s living in silence where I’ve been … come out and get tested, and the league pick up the bill.

“It was a badge of honour back then. Me against the Chief (Paul Harragon) – it was battle time. When we were coming through we didn’t have any protocols, we didn’t know about this.”

Carroll made the devastating revelation that he contemplated suicide while at his lowest point. “It’s not a good spot,” he said. “Knowing you want to try and get rid of yourself. I just want them to step forward and come out from the silence which I was in too.”

Carroll's revelation comes after the NRL introduced a mandatory 11-day stand-down period for any player who has suffered concussion. That means that anyone who fails a Head Injury Assessment or is later found to be concussed must sit out the following game.

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Late last year, Fenech and his family lifted the lid on his debilitating plight, revealing he now has dementia caused by the head knocks he suffered throughout his career. Fenech's son Joe revealed how his father gave a speech at his wedding, only to forget that he had done so a day later.

"My parents woke up in the morning, the day after the wedding, my dad turned to my mum and said, 'I'm really excited for the wedding, when is it?'," Joe said.

Canterbury Bulldogs legend Steve Mortimer is also suffering from dementia, while Rabbitohs hero John Sattler was diagnosed three years ago before his death on Monday. Sattler's son Scott spoke about his father's declining health in 2021.

Mark Carroll, pictured here with his family.
Mark Carroll with his family. Image: Instagram

“Dad was diagnosed officially last year with dementia,” Scott told The Daily Telegraph. “I’ve always suspected for a lot longer that he was suffering from memory loss.

“I have no doubt the punishment dad copped during his career has played a role in his health today. He suffered a stroke a few years ago and that is also a factor.

“It’s sad to see, what I’d give to be able to sit and talk rugby league like we used to for hours. I’ll never get that again, this is the effect of rugby league.”

Readers seeking support and information can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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