Wests Tigers prop Keith Galloway revealed he had taken teammate Liam Fulton aside and implored him to accept that his long-term health - and the future of his young family - was a far greater priority than his rugby league career.
Fulton, a veteran of 161 NRL first-grade games, could be forced into premature retirement after suffering four concussions in the six games he played this season. His playing future is dependent upon the results of a series of brain tests he had in Melbourne last week.
The 28-year-old is expected to find out the results today and it is understood he will then talk at length to the club's medical staff, coaching team and family members about his future.
Galloway revealed that he had already advised his friend to accept there were greater issues at stake than mere football.
"He's probably one of my best mates at the club," Galloway said after training on Monday. "I spoke to him after his fourth concussion and said: 'Mate, take a rest and see what's going on. Footy is important but your health and future is more important. So just sit it out, get the tests done and see what happens.'
"He's here [at training], just walking around and watching everyone, so it's pretty tough. He's still joking around and having a good time, but hopefully he gets good news [on Tuesday] or whenever the results come through."
While Fulton is regarded as one of the code's genuine pranksters, Galloway said despite his mate's jovial facade he appreciated the seriousness of his situation.
"He's a joker at the worst of times," Galloway said. "If he does [worry], he's not really letting on [but] I'm sure he knows it's a serious issue. He's got a young daughter and a wife . . . he's got people to look after."
What concerned Fulton's teammates and his club officials was the apparent ease in which he suffered his last concussion against Newcastle. However, Wests Tigers colt Curtis Sironen, who also suffered a head knock against Newcastle, understood why Fulton found it hard to accept his lot.
"He probably feels as if he's the same as he was last year," Sironen said. "Obviously, the knock he copped against the Knights wasn't very heavy, so [to get] concussion [from that] was a bit scary. But he's a veteran and he knows his body better than anyone.
"He went down and got a few scans in Melbourne, and he'll probably get something out of that, but it's tough for us [as footballers] because we just want to play footy and even if we're 80 per cent we're still going to say we're all right."
While the Wests Tigers were fined for not replacing Fulton when he was concussed in the round-five match against Manly, the club's management had been vigilant in ensuring player safety, a point Galloway was quick to point out before Saturday's match against Canberra at Campbelltown.
"The club is putting his welfare first," he said. "If the club didn't care, they'd be throwing him out and not worrying about what he's like in the future."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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