Joey warns Ben Ross: 'Put health before footy'

Newcastle great Andrew Johns has urged Ben Ross to put his health before rugby league following the South Sydney prop’s latest setback with his injured neck.<br><br>CT scans yesterday were expected to clear Ross to return to the field for the first time in more than a year but instead showed that his neck has not healed sufficiently to make a comeback.<br><br>It’s the third time in 2010 that Ross has had his hopes dashed and leaves his career hanging in the balance.<br><br>Speaking with NRL.com this morning, Johns – who was forced to retire in early 2007 because of a similar neck injury – said it is time Ross makes a decision on his future but warned that the 29-year-old must look beyond his emotions.<br><br>“You don’t muck around with the neck,” Johns said. “I feel sorry for him. He has put a lot of hard work in to get back. <br><br>“When you’re playing, you’re in a little bubble really and it’s not until you finish your career that realise how insular you are when you play footy. <br><br>“What he has to do now is sit back and make a decision but if there is even the slightest doubt he has to finish up. <br><br>“It’s a hard one but he has had a good career. I wish him all the best.”<br><br>Johns was forced to call it quits after just three games of the 2007 season after a training mishap led to doctors discovering a bulging disc in his neck.<br><br>A devastated Johns announced his retirement the next day after being told that another hit could prove life-threatening.<br><br>Asked if Ross now faced a tough decision, Johns said “It is and it isn’t. <br><br>“It’s a bit harder for him – he’s a lot younger than I was – but neck injuries, you don’t want to bugger around with them.<br><br>“There are more important things to think about.”<br><br>Ross was crushed in a tackle in Round 1 last year while playing for Cronulla and underwent surgery two days later to fix a ruptured disc that was pressing on his spinal cord.<br><br>Doctors also fused together his sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae after he complained of numbness in his arms and legs in the days after the injury.<br><br>Although he didn’t play again last season, Ross was thrown a lifeline by the Rabbitohs in 2010 with a small one-year deal that he saw as his opportunity to reignite his career.<br><br>On three separate occasions he looked close to making a comeback but scans held in the pre-season, after Round 5 and now this week have all returned bad news.<br><br>Ross is now almost certain to be sidelined for at least the remainder of the year and may never play again.<br><br>South Sydney boss Shane Richardson refused to comment on Ross’ future when contacted this morning but said that he and coach John Lang would meet with the front-rower this afternoon to discuss their options.<br><br>“He only went for scans yesterday so I don’t want to say too much until we know more,” he said.<br><br>“We’ll sit down today to talk through a few things and we’ll see where we go from there.”<br><br>Ross has played 108 NRL games for St George Illawarra, Penrith and Cronulla and won a premiership with the Panthers in 2003.<br><br>He also played six State of Origin games for Queensland in 2004-2005.<br>