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Former footballer calls for AFL to enforce mandatory concussion breaks

A former AFL player who’s suffered ongoing mental struggles due to the knocks he copped throughout his career has called on the AFL to set a mandatory break, as long as four weeks, for players who are taken from the field with concussion.

It comes after analysis of the brain tissue of the late Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer confirmed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly referred to as CTE.

Medical experts believe the disorder was caused by repeated sub-concussive knocks over his years in the game.

Shaun Smith, who played 109 games at the highest level with North Melbourne and Melbourne, told Neil Mitchell it was “only a matter of time” before a player received that diagnosis.

Symptoms include memory loss, confusion and even depression, and often begin years before the last trauma.

“When you were reading out before what Polly Farmer had, that’s basically me,” Smith said on 3AW.

Smith, who has a son playing at Melbourne, called on the AFL to take the decision out of the players’ hands when it came to concussion.

“Players are getting knocked out and missing one week, or playing the next week,” he said.

“To me, that is pretty poor.

“The player will always want to play, let’s face it.

“There should be a policy that if you get knocked out and carried off, you miss four weeks, or something like that.

“There has to be a number.”

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(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)