Boyd Cordner is all for the NRL’s crackdown on high tackles after making the heartbreaking decision to hang up the boots because of ongoing concussion symptoms, less than a week after his 29th birthday.
The former NSW State of Origin and Australian Test captain is the second player to announce his premature retirement in 2021 after enduring a series of worrying head knocks.
Cordner’s three-time premiership-winning Sydney Roosters teammate Jake Friend called it quits in April at only 31.
The league’s out-of-the-blue, mid-season edict to start sending players to the sin bin, or completely off, for high shots has drawn widespread criticism from players and fans alike.
Cordner, though, says the NRL and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys have made the right move.
“Player welfare and player safety has got to be the forefront of everything,” Cordner said at his retirement announcement on Monday.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the way the game’s changed, and it is changing, but in all of that we’ve got to find a really good balance with it. We’ve seen over the last week, we’re starting to find that, which is good.
“But for me personally, with the head highs, all of my concussions and head knocks have sorted of been from me and my tackling technique. But I do support the NRL in what they’re trying to do.”
Saying he needed to put his health and happiness first, Cordner insisted he had not retired on medical advice and that it was his choice entirely to walk away, though he sensed his family were concerned about the prospect of him playing on.
“At the start I got a lot of advice from specialists, doctors,” he said. “I’ve done so much testing just to make sure that I was OK and the pleasing thing is that that all came back really good. It was all A-plus.
“[But] I had a couple of specialists recommend that it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to go back and play. But then on the other hand they said ‘well, we can’t see why not as well’ because how I was in my testing and my recovery and everything like that.”
Cordner said he was totally content with his decision, despite having been desperate to make a comeback – having not played since being felled in the 2020 State of Origin series decider last November.
“If that was the case, it would have been me physically probably being there but mentally just crossing my fingers and I don’t think that was safe,” he said. “For once in my life and my career, I had to put my health and my happiness first.”