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'I've seen the struggle': Wife of ex-All Blacks star opens up on witnessing effects of concussion

By Online Editors

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By NZ Herald

The wife of former All Black Norm Maxwell has spoken out amid recent developments in rugby’s concussion battle.

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Maxwell, who played 36 test matches over a six-year period from 1999 for the All Blacks, has struggled with the after-effects of concussion in recent years.

In a Facebook post, his wife, Jesica Buezas, opened up on what it’s like watching from the outside.

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“As a partner of a former All Black I’ve seen what it’s like to live with pain EVERY DAY,” she wrote.

“I’ve seen what is [sic] like to be sensitive to artificial light, to get a migraine for days if you don’t protect yourself with sunglasses and hat. I’ve seen the struggle. I’ve seen my little son having to be aware of his dad’s pain when they play, having to be careful with his neck. I’ve seen how they charged him 450$ for an x-ray cause those injuries were a long time ago.

“I think it’s time to take action and make the difference and protect the players. Those players give everything on the field every match and feel the pressure of having to win every time cause the jersey is too heavy. And when they finished their careers nobody knows the struggles they go through.

“I hope this is the beginning of a conversation that is much needed. Good on this woman for speaking up about it. We love you baby and we see you.”

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Earlier this week, the Herald reported that as many as 70 former rugby players could have contributed to a lawsuit, including multiple All Blacks, whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by cognitive issues ranging from post-concussion syndrome to suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease with no cure that can only be diagnosed after death.

Two former All Blacks, Carl Hayman and Geoff Old, told the Herald they had been in contact with British-based lawyers about their post-playing medical conditions.

The action is being readied and will likely target several national rugby bodies within that jurisdiction. Sources indicate it will argue that rugby authorities have known about, and subsequently underplayed, the risks associated with repetitive head injuries for decades.

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It is not yet known what damages would be sought for those suffering from the after-effects of injuries suffered while playing rugby.

On Thursday, NZR chief executive Mark Robinson expressed sympathy for those affected by concussion.

“As a player I played for a long time and have suffered concussions on a few occasions and played at a time where certainly the education in this space was continuing to grow.

“We took all the precautions back when I was an athlete and we’ve only got better over time,” Robinson, a nine-test All Black, said.

“I personally spoke to [World Rugby chairman] Bill Beaumont around a number of issues in this area last night. It’s hard for me to comment around what’s coming out of London and any potential legal action but I would reiterate we are committed to and have been for some time around mitigating, educating around concussion in our country.

“We know we can be better and must keep working in this area because it is very complex. We have a huge amount of sympathy and empathy for anyone in rugby struggling at this time both domestically and internationally – our hearts go out to them.

“The potential for class action is a reality of the situation that’s emerged offshore that we can’t talk about in any detail.”

By NZ Herald

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'I've seen the struggle': Wife of ex-All Blacks star opens up on witnessing effects of concussion

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