Roosters star Luke Keary has opened up on his concussion battles, how he’s dealt with the setbacks and why it can be one of the more frustrating injuries.
He has also revealed that teammate Lindsay Collins will take a break from the game after suffering a head knock against Manly — his second in as many weeks.
Keary suffered a head knock in the Roosters’ Round 14 loss to the Storm and was sidelined for four weeks before starring in his return game against the Knights.
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The 30-year-old has a well-documented history with concussion. He suffered four in the space of 14 months between January 2018 and May 2019 — with the last one during that period forcing him into an extended break from the game.
When he suffered his latest knock, many in the game feared for his long-term future. But Keary had the advice of those who know best to guide him through a tricky period.
Speaking for the first time since that head knock, Keary told the Fox League podcast that he was “a little bit nervous” to return in Round 19.
But shared that “compartmentalising” and listening to medical advice is what helped him get back onto the field.
“I think the way you deal with it initially and the big one is the medical advice you get. I found the top neurologist in the country giving you advice — they’re the ones you should listen to,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people that are going to have an opinion about it, which is fair enough, but if you can just listen to them (neurologist), they’re not going to put you at risk. They’re not going to let you get back out there if they think there’s a risk to your long-term future.
“If you can kind of compartmentalise everything and take the right people’s advice it makes you a little less nervous to come back.
“But it’s always a tough one to come back from… you don’t want to get them as a player and you don’t want to see other players get them.”
Keary also gave a rare insight into what the recovery period actually looks like for players — and why it’s different for everyone.
“I’ve had ones where I’ve had symptoms and with those you can’t do anything, you’ve just got to rest and wait for the symptoms to go, the NRL has a return to play policy which you follow and it’s a pretty safe way to get back into contact and games,” he said.
“Then there’s others… In 2019 I had a few in a row and I had a forced six-week lay-off. I was actually fine, I didn’t have any symptoms, but the doctors thought it was the best thing to have a month off.
“I was fine the whole time, I had a couple of weeks off then I trained with the boys for three or four weeks. I think they’re all different depending on symptoms.”
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It’s those types of concussions where there’s no symptoms that Keary admitted are “definitely” frustrating because his body may have felt fine but he had to put his long-term health first.
“Obviously with other injuries you just know straight away, whatever it is there’s sort of a set time limit. Head (injuries) are very different,” he said.
“Every single player is different. Some players take an hour to recover, some take weeks, some take months.
“The neurologist will tell you too, I think it’s the brain patterns don’t go back to normal for a few weeks so I think in society and even in medical they admit don’t have all the information they need at the moment.
“But I’m pretty experienced with them so I can tell you they’re very cautious and they don’t take footy into consideration — they take into consideration your health.
“As a game we’re doing as good a job as we can to protect the players and put in the best measures and protocols we know at the moment which are going to help.
“It’s never going to be perfect because as I said even the top docs will admit they just don’t have enough information yet.”
Between Keary’s history and the early retirements of Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend last season, the Roosters are well-equipped for concussion challenges.
They’ll take their time with Collins, who suffered a head knock in Origin III and then another against Manly last Thursday.
Keary revealed Collins, who is “in good spirits,” will take a break but is hopeful of returning before the end of the season.
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“It was real unfortunate,” Keary said of Collins’ concussion.
“Obviously the Origin one and then first game back, that wasn’t a pretty sight. But he was in really good spirits.
“It’s funny, everyone’s different and some knocks you’re rattled by, they make you sick and then others you’re fine five minutes late.
“Linds was in real good spirits after the game, he’s been at training every day — he wanted to train with us yesterday but the doctors wouldn’t let him.
“He’s obviously going to have some time off, get himself right, make sure his head and neck are right, make sure everything is OK, go see some independent doctors and take the time he needs to come back, make sure he’s healthy and strong and to make sure he’s OK to play.
“Hopefully we get him back before the end of the season, but if not, we all just want Linds to get healthy again.”