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SBD Global/April 9, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Injured NRL Players Left Financially Exposed Without Insurance To Cover Care

Newcastle's Alex McKinnon was injured by a tackle on March 24 against Melbourne.
Neither National Rugby League Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon nor his family "will be left out-of-pocket" for his broken neck if the wishes from NRL CEO Dave Smith "come to fruition," according to Josh Massoud of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. While Smith’s plan "is to be universally applauded," his task of finding the money that will fund McKinnon’s lifelong care "is a much less straightforward issue." In the absence of any financial safeguard, the Australian Rugby League Commission’s future fund -- currently standing at A$49.6M ($46M) -- "shapes as the most obvious well, apart from external parties who will be motivated to offer their support." But "should the game have been better placed to withstand a catastrophe such as this?" There has been "no shortage of warning." Since '11 three players -- Simon Dwyer, Michael Greenfield and Daniel Conn -- "have been forced to retire because of spinal/neck problems." Dwyer "is the highest profile case." The NRL could offer just A$80,000 in compensation. It was "only goodwill from the Tigers that's kept Dwyer from financial ruin." Dwyer’s ordeal "highlighted the need for a wholesale insurance scheme, at least to cover players for two years after the onset of a career-ending injury." When the Commonwealth Bank of Australia negotiations heated up in late '12, Dwyer’s name "was often raised" as the Rugby League Players Association "pushed for clubs to guarantee contracts in all circumstances." More than 12 months down the track "there’s still nothing, with players now forced to secure personal insurance for peace of mind"  (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/9).
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