A leading Australian concussion expert has issued a warning to Cronulla Sharks player Cameron McInnes about the potential long-term health risks he faces if he continues to subject his body to the physical demands of the NRL. McInnes, 29, made a record-breaking 81 tackles in the team’s recent match against the Penrith Panthers, leaving him battered and bruised at the end of the game. While his teammates were impressed by his feat, Dr Adrian Cohen, the CEO and Founder of Headsafe, believes McInnes needs to reconsider his approach to defence for the sake of his own safety.
Dr Cohen stated, “‘Without doubt he [McInnes] is increasing his chances of brain damage. The number of impacts over time, multiplied by their force [in a contact sport like rugby league] gives you a total lifetime ‘dose’ of energy to the brain. The higher the dose, the more likely the damage.'” The expert emphasised the cumulative effect of repeated impacts on the brain and the potential consequences in the long run.
Interestingly, rugby league legend Wally Lewis recently disclosed that an expert had informed him that he might be affected by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions, as a result of head knocks during his playing days. This revelation adds weight to the discussion around player safety and the need for caution.
McInnes’ teammate Braden Hamlin-Uele expressed his admiration for the forward’s outstanding performance, describing it as “insane.” It was also worth noting that this was the first game this season in which McInnes played the full 80 minutes. Hamlin-Uele praised McInnes for his dedication and consistency, stating, “‘It is a testament to his character. He turns up week in and week out and is ready to go.'”
The astonishing number of tackles McInnes made during the game sparked disbelief among his fellow players. Hamlin-Uele recalled, “‘We got off at full-time and I heard someone say ’81’ and I was like ‘is that how much possession they had?’ and they said, ‘no that’s how many tackles Cam made. The acceptance to lay it all out on the field…I love him for it.'”
Despite his heroic effort against the favored Panthers, McInnes did not spend his Sunday resting. Instead, he honored a promise he made to his two young children, Noa and Mia, by taking them to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. The McInnes family considered visiting a zoo closer to their home in Sydney’s west but ended up choosing Taronga Zoo, even though it was located near the Penrith area.
While some fans might assume that McInnes would take the opportunity to take it easy after such a physically demanding game, the dedicated player showed his commitment to his family and his team by prioritising their outing.
Although McInnes may have set a tackling record, he humbly stated that he was not proud of it. Instead, he found solace in the collective effort his teammates displayed during the match, despite the disappointing final result. This further demonstrates McInnes’ team-first mentality and his focus on the greater success of the Sharks.