AUDIO / Head Noise - The Australian
  • Jasper Leak, James Graham, Jessica Halloran, Claire Harvey, Lia Tsamoglou (Australia)

Australian Rugby League superstar James Graham discovers the truth about what football has done to his brain - and faces up to deeply confronting questions about risk, reward, masculinity and responsibility. James Graham is one of the hardest men in rugby league: a prop who spent 17 years in first grade and Tests, and was renowned for his fearless, hard-tackling style, famously breaking the cheekbone of fellow star Sam Burgess in the 2014 NRL Grand Final. He’s also the first NRL player to announce he’ll donate his brain to science, and has begun exploring exactly what damage his brain has sustained and how he can delay the onset of dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions. Graham wants to be around for his two little girls and partner - and he wants to ensure children starting rugby league today are safe. Liverpool-raised Graham was one of the game’s most popular figures before his 2020 retirement and is now a regular panellist on NRL360. He’s articulate and insightful about why he chooses to confront his fears: “I’ve spent my career sacrificing my future for the present moment. I would do anything to play the game I loved. I’d take any risk. Now I want to protect my future - and I want to help find solutions.” Should the rules be changed? How do we protect our kids? What do players want? Can risk-taking young men be protected from themselves? Do we risk destroying the sports we love by misunderstanding the nature of risk? What does the science say? What drives ex-players to drink, drugs and encounters with the law? How do we help them cope with the grief of losing their careers - while ensuring they are held to account for their behaviour? Head Noise credits: James Graham - Host Jessica Halloran - Host, writer and producer Claire Harvey - Executive producer, Editorial Director Jasper Leak - Audio Engineer Lia Tsamoglou - Multimedia Producer


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