Mark Carroll calls for NRL rule change after Corey Parker's devastating revelation

The Manly legend has spoken out and implored NRL officials to make a key move.

Corey Parker and Mark Carroll.
Mark Carroll (R) has spoken out in the wake of Corey Parker's (L) revelation. Image: Getty/AAP

Rugby league great Mark Carroll has called on the NRL to increase concussion stand-down periods in the wake of Corey Parker's revelation that he's sure he has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). A form of dementia that is caused by repeated head injuries, CTE can only be diagnosed after death and is becoming prevalent in athletes who played contact sports.

In March last year, Carroll revealed he'd been told he's likely suffering from CTE after undergoing brain scans. And this week, Parker admitted he has "no doubt" that he also has the disorder after experiencing symptoms.

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"I've got no doubt, I have no doubt whatsoever over my tenure as a rugby league player that I have symptoms, I have symptoms of CTE," the 41-year-old said on SEN radio. "But it's something that you can't really get a grasp on until obviously post-mortem. You can try and manage different things, but the damage is done isn't it."

Corey Parker.
Corey Parker at a Brisbane Broncos NRLW training session. (AAPIMAGE)

Speaking to The Australian on Wednesday, Manly Sea Eagles legend Carroll said the NRL needs to increase the stand-down period that players must complete after being concussed. The NRL introduced a mandatory 11-day period last season, but Carroll says it isn't good enough.

“The stand down is 11 days. That’s bullshit,” Carroll said. “If you’re a boxer, it’s at least 30 days if not longer. It used to be seven days in the NRL, then they went to 11 days because some metrics, determined by a computer, recommended that time frame.

“Longer stand downs will hurt clubs and their rosters but it’s in the best interests of the player. It should be at least three weeks, what’s 11 days if a player has been diagnosed with a concussion? It’s not long enough.”

Carroll said Parker should seek out medical help and undergo a brain scan like he did. The 57-year-old has been rallying the NRL to make the scans free for all current and past players.

“Look after players in my era and also my heroes in the era before that and the eras before that," he said last year. "$900 for a PET (positron emission tomography) 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."

Mark Carroll in 1995 after a game for the Kangaroos.
Mark Carroll after a game for Australia in 1995. (Getty Images)

Wally Lewis and Corey Parker call for attitude change in sport

CTE is back in the spotlight this week after Queensland legend Wally Lewis spoke on a Dementia Australia panel at Parliament House on Tuesday. The 64-year-old went public with his battle last year after a leading doctor said she was "90 per cent sure" he has CTE.

"I'm fearful for what my future will look like, so I try not to think too much about it," he said. "We all thought we were 10-feet tall, bulletproof. But for most of us, the reality was that it was causing us the extensive long-term damage (and it was) something that we weren't dealing with."

Lewis also called for change, saying there needs to be end to the way players are viewed as 'tough' if they try to keep playing after a serious knock. "We need to train our kids smarter," he said. "It's not a badge of honour to go back out onto the field with a head injury, it's sheer carelessness."

Parker echoed those sentiments, saying: "We actually looked at it like, 'oh, this guy is so tough'. But there were points in my career where I knew I was concussed, I knew I was dazed and towards the backend of my career, I would actually buy myself time on the ground and grab a shoulder or leg until my head was right to then get to my feet. I knew if I got to my feet I'd stumble, which is definitely not the right way to be thinking."

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