England international James Graham has become the first active player to pledge his brain to science upon his death in order to aid further research into concussion.
The former St Helens forward, who plays for St George Illawarra in the NRL, has joined former Australia internationals Peter Sterling and Mark Carroll in making the pledge to donate after a study revealed two former rugby league players died of a brain disease.
The study diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the former players – a condition linked with repeated head traumas and also prevalent in grid iron.
Graham explained his reasons for the donation to Australian rugby league subscription channel Fox League.
He said: “I sent my papers off on Wednesday (to donate my 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.
“It’s great to see people like Peter Sterling donating his brain and I think the more players of all codes can sign up, it can only lead to more research being done and figuring out the answers of what is a very tricky and complex situation.
“I want to be proactive rather than sit there at 70 or 80 and wonder how I am in this situation and why can’t I remember things.
“Now that it’s out there, now that it’s confirmed they’ve found CTE in some former NRL players, it brings the talk about concussion back to the table.
“I’m really pleased to see the game is taking it seriously and I’m really interested to see the next step we take as a game.”
The 33-year-old has also agreed to undertake tests during the remainder of his rugby league career after any potential concussions.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of some concussions and head traumas, so I’m trying to arm myself with as much information as possible,”