Former Australian rugby player to sue league commission

Michael Greenfield is taking legal action against the Australian Rugby League Commission over a shoulder charge that prematurely ended his career in a landmark case that could have huge ramifications for Australian sport, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Greenfield played 38 games during short stays with the Sharks, Rabbitohs, Dragons and Storm. His career ended in 2012, when, in his one and only appearance for Melbourne, he was the victim of a shoulder charge from then-Brisbane forward Ben Te’o.

Greenfield, who has a history of neck injuries, was knocked senseless in the sickening collision.

The front rower underwent surgery two months later to correct a bulging disc, a procedure that ended a promising career.

The ARLC banned the shoulder charge six months later after engaging Roosters CEO Brian Canavan to review the controversial tackling technique. Canavan’s report found there were 71 shoulder charges that season – 12 of which resulted in the player making contact with the ball carrier’s head.

While shoulder charges comprise of only 0.05 percent of over 140,000 tackles that season, four percent resulted in injury to the attacking player, whose average size was eight pounds heavier and just a hair-of-an-inch taller than a decade earlier.

The report also found the average G-force of the shoulder charge measured 76 percent greater than a conventional head-on tackle.

In discern of the findings, the ARLC decided to ban the shoulder charges. However, it wasn’t in time to avoid Greenfield, whose case may result in millions of dollars in claims from other players injured prior to the crackdown.

The National Rugby League’s judiciary and match review committee upped penalties for dangerous tackles in recent years to discourage the practices. However, that will be of little comfort to Greenfield, who could use that as evidence against the governing body.

The NRL is yet to unveil its promised injured player’s foundation, while the players are being covered by an interim insurance policy sourced by their union.

Greenfield also revealed that he walked away from the game with a premiership ring and a broken neck.

The former Australian Schoolboys forward made his NRL debut as a teen and mapped out his future around rugby.

The case, which begins in the Supreme Court next week, will scrutinize the legal fraternity and may result in more disciplinary actions against sporting bodies for negligence.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to Simon Alekna/Sydney Morning Herald

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