St George Illawarra forward Josh Miller has been applauded for his acceptance of ongoing concussion problems, with medical professionals declaring his early retirement an ‘‘important’’ step forward for the NRL.
Miller conceded at a press conference in Wollongong yesterday that another season of rugby league risked being detrimental to his health.
As the NRL grapples with its new concussion laws and the vexing issue of player attitudes towards head knocks, Dragons medico Dr Tom Carrigan welcomed Miller’s decision.
‘‘Josh is the most genuine kind of person there is and he is somebody who does accept the right advice when it comes,’’ Dr Carrigan said.
‘‘I was very pleased to hear that he adopted a very mature attitude in listening and understanding the rationale behind what we’ve done.
‘‘It’s very important. The clubs are realising ‘sure it’s a competitive game but player welfare is really important’.
‘‘It’s a joint decision, it wasn’t simply us telling him not to play.’’
Miller is of the old school – a hard-hitting, no-fuss player who gives as good as he gets.
Following several serious concussions this year, the 28-year-old sat a three-hour test with a sports psychologist in September, assessing basic skills in memory, recall and co-ordination.
It confirmed what the former Raiders forward didn’t want to hear.
‘‘Every footy player wants to play but sometimes it’s not up to me,’’ Miller said. ‘‘The decision has been taken up by other people, otherwise I’d play until I was 80 – I’d still be running around in a retirement home trying to play footy. That’s not the way it’s meant to be and that’s not the career I’ve had.
‘‘I’m very thankful for my career and I don’t take any of it for granted. It’s been the time of my life and something I’ll really cherish.’’
NRL chief medical officer Ron Muratore couldn’t be contacted yesterday but told the Mercury in September that he was aware of Miller’s long history of head knocks.
‘‘The NRL’s not in a position to be telling clubs what to do and it’s up for them to manage the players,’’ Muratore said.
‘‘Miller has had a number of concussions throughout his career and it’s not appropriate for me to interfere.’’
Miller was originally signed with the Dragons until the end of next season.
The club is expected to counteract his departure with the signing of Raiders forward Bronson Harrison in the coming weeks.
‘‘We’ve been in communication with his management team but that’s an ongoing process at the moment and we’ll have to wait and see,’’ Dragons coach Steve Price said.
Harrison is understood to be on the outer at the Raiders, despite having two years remaining on his contract.
The 27-year-old would be an ideal fit for the Dragons forwards stocks, now without Beau Scott (Newcastle), Dean Young (retirement), Jeremy Latimore (Panthers) and Miller for next year.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of guys that are going for positions at the club and that’s a good thing heading into the new season,’’ Dragons prop Michael Weyman said.