Widow of AFL player Shane Tuck wants ‘sins of the past’ examined in inquest

Caroline SchelleNCA NewsWire
His widow Katherine Tuck urged Coroner John Cain to probe how her husband was able to return to the field after he was concussed. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Camera IconHis widow Katherine Tuck urged Coroner John Cain to probe how her husband was able to return to the field after he was concussed. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images) Credit: Supplied

The Richmond Football Club has released an extraordinary statement in response to “inflammatory allegations” aired in court surrounding the treatment of one of its star players.

Former Tigers midfielder Shane Tuck took his own life last year.

An autopsy later revealed the 38-year-old had “severe” chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be diagnosed after death.

The disease is linked to repeated blows to the head and can result in behaviour changes including depression and paranoia.

Hs widow wants to know what role club doctors played in letting him get back on the field after repeated concussions, a coronial directions hearing was told on Tuesday.

Katherine Tuck urged Coroner John Cain to probe how her husband was able to return to the field after he was concussed.

Former AFL footballer Shane Tuck has died at the age of 38. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

“The widow would be asking … how her husband was able to be so poorly and badly medically treated by those doctors involved at Richmond who allowed him to continue to play with numerous concussions,” lawyer Greg Griffin told the Coroners Court of Victoria.

Mr Griffin said they never told him to take a break after the hits.

“The words of the widow are ‘it is the voices in his head that were telling him to suicide’,” he said.

The midfielder played 173 games for the Tigers between 2004 and 2013 and was briefly a professional boxer before he was found dead at his Berwick home.

“The debilitating illness of CTE was caused by the manner in which Shane Tuck was permitted to go un-medically treated, or not properly cared for during his lengthy contract and period of employment with Richmond,” Mr Griffin told the court.

FILE - Former AFL Player Shane Tuck Dies Aged 38
Camera IconHis widow Katherine Tuck urged Coroner John Cain to probe how her husband was able to return to the field after he was concussed. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images) Credit: Supplied

He said his client would be “very, very distressed” if the investigation did not explore what happened to players in those years and said they should examine the “sins of the past”.

But the coroner said he was far more interested in the “current state of play” of how concussion and head knocks were managed in the AFL and boxing.

“That is where I want to focus the attention in this inquest,” Mr Cain said.

The coroner said it wasn’t his job to apportion blame on anyone.

Richmond Football Club chief executive Brendon Gale took the unusual step of issuing a strongly-worded public statement in response to comments made at the coronial hearing.

“We feel compelled to defend the highly professional medical staff that managed Shane Tuck throughout his career in the wake of the inflammatory allegations made at a coronial investigation today,” Mr Gale said on Tuesday night.

“We are appalled at the suggestion our medical staff acted in a negligent or unethical way. We stand behind those medical staff who acted to the highest professional standards, and in the best interests of Shane during his career.”

A 12-day break for players with concussion was introduced into the AFL during the 2021 season, doubling the previous mandatory period.

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Originally published as Widow of AFL player Shane Tuck wants ‘sins of the past’ examined in inquest

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