AFL outlines its response after Shane Tuck inquest

Ex-Richmond player Shane Tuck was diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition after his death.

Ex-Richmond player Shane Tuck was diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition after his death. Photo: AAP

The AFL is considering introducing limits on contact at training and having independent doctors at top-flight games to help assess concussion and head knocks.

The measures are part of the league’s written response to the finding of state coroner Judge John Cain following the inquest into the death of former Richmond player Shane Tuck.

Tuck died by suicide in July 2020 and was subsequently diagnosed with the degenerative brain condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In December last year, the coroner recommended limiting the number of contact training sessions before, during and after the regular season from 2025, as well as hiring independent doctors to assess players who suffer head knocks in AFL and AFLW games.

The AFL welcomed the coroner’s recommendations, saying they would “form part of our ongoing process of consideration of potential improvements in our strategic approach to the prevention and management of concussion and other head trauma in Australian football”.

The AFL noted it had already banned boxing and sparring at training, and that further recommendations would be based on a review of training data plus input from the clubs, players and coaches.

There are already independent doctors at AFLW games and the league welcomed the prospect of them assisting in assessing players who suffered head knocks in men’s and women’s matches.

The AFL said it was “currently liaising with contact sports globally … to identify best practice for the role to be played by an independent doctor in collaboration with club doctors”.

The league confirmed it had already implemented the coroner’s recommendation for concussion spotters in the AFL Review Centre to have the power to mandate the removal of a player from the field.

Education on concussion and repeated head trauma for AFL players and staff, and those at community level, would also be supported.

“The AFL continues to invest in, and support, research into concussion and repeated head trauma,” AFL general counsel Stephen Meade said in a statement.

“On behalf of the AFL, we reiterate our deepest sympathies to the Tuck family on Shane’s untimely passing in 2020 and their immense contribution to research into concussion and head trauma in Australian football.”

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