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Justin Hodges believes the players' instinct will always be to stay on the field.

If you give any player in the NRL that has suffered a head knock even the slightest chance to convince a trainer that they are able to keep playing they will lie and say whatever they need to say in order to stay on the field.

It's just the way we are wired and I never saw anything in my 16 years in the NRL to indicate that players are becoming more open to the need to leave the field for an assessment after suffering a head knock.

Which is why in my opinion the NRL needs to even go a step further than the current protocols around concussion and make it compulsory for any player who suffers a head knock during a game to leave the field and be assessed by the medical staff.

Players are getting a little better in understanding the dangers around head knocks but there's no doubt that your first instinct when you do cop a hit to the head is to stay on the field with your mates.

It's been viewed for a long time as a way of showing your toughness but making players come off has in my eyes been a really positive move for the game.

You see guys get knocked out and stay out there and they don't know what's happening.

The trainers can talk to the players but the players are trying to convince themselves more than anyone else that they are fine so their welfare has got to come into play and they should be taken straight off otherwise the players will continue to stay on.

They want to continue even though they are probably not feeling 100 per cent and know that within themselves but you have got to tell a footy player he has to come off because he's not going to come off all by himself.

It's hard to convince a player to come from the field in any game but it gets even harder the bigger the games get. You can imagine if there's 10 minutes to go in a grand final and a player cops a hit to the head; he's not going to come off and if he's the superstar player in his team the coach isn't going to want him to come off either.

Any hit in the head you've just got to pull them without even questioning them on the football field because if you give them that chance to argue that they're OK then they're going to lie and do whatever they can to stay on the field. That's just the way footy players are.

I never really got knocked out playing first grade but I did cop a few when I was a bit younger.

When I first moved to Brisbane I was playing at West Arana and I got knocked out and ended up spending a couple of nights in hospital.

I was 16 years old at the time and that was pretty hard because you're in hospital for two nights spewing your guts up and all that stuff which is a bit of a struggle.

It was tough on my parents. Seeing your kid in hospital is always tough but if you put your head in the wrong spot trying to make a tackle it's not something you can completely prevent from happening. And I certainly didn't think about not playing because of it.

What is important in today's game is making sure our players are safe. A footy career is only 10 years of your life and we have to do what we can to make sure our players live healthy lives after football and aren't left with battle scars that have long-lasting effects.

Final thought

It's great to see Dave Taylor back in the NRL and playing back at Suncorp Stadium for the Raiders on Friday night.

Read the amazing tales of Dave Taylor

There's no doubt that Dave was one of the most naturally talented players I ever played with but his attitude and mental toughness often let him down. He had so much ability and I always encouraged him to use it because you don't want those guys to go into their shell but sometimes he just did some silly things at crucial times. He was known for his offloads and his little chip and chase but there were times when he would use it at the wrong time and that was his biggest downfall.

Because of his sheer size and how much he would eat he would often go through an entire season without lifting a single weight because he would just get too big if he did. Instead he would have to do extra cardio and wrestling sessions to burn off all those calories he was eating because he was just so heavy. But you have to let a guy like Dave play football and I hope we see plenty more freakish things from him in the NRL.


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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