Rugby league legend Mark ‘Spudd’ Carroll opens up on devastating health battle: ‘Am I going to die?’

Rugby league legend Mark ‘Spudd’ Carroll is asking the NRL to fund brain scans for ex-players.

Carroll, who was one of the toughest to ever play the game, is now gearing up for another fight.

With the NRL tightening rules on concussions, modern players must now contend with the ever-present threat of potential long-term brain damage.

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That was a different story for earlier eras.

Highlight “Spudd” Carroll Credit: Seven/Getty Images

“It was a badge of honor back then. Me versus the Chief (Paul Harragon) — it was fight time,” Carroll told 7NEWS.

“When we came through we didn’t have any logs, we didn’t know about it.”

Startled by last year’s 7NEWS Spotlight story about Mario Fenech’s battle with dementia, 56-year-old Carroll signed up for testing.

His neurologist told him he had CTE, a degenerative brain disease.

“Buddy, I just burst into tears,” he said.

“I said to her, ‘Am I going to die?’ It was a week after Paul Green took his own life.”

“It’s bloody awful, you put it off, but you don’t want to hear the consequences.”

At his lowest point, the former Manly and Souths enforcer considered suicide.

Now he wants to help others.

“It’s not a good place,” he said.

“Knowing that you want to try to get rid of yourself.

“I just want them to step forward and come out of the silence I was in too.”

Mark Carroll in action for the Sea Eagles in 1993. Credit: Getty Images

Carroll also wants the NRL to step up.

“There’s a duty of care, I really believe that,” he added.

“Take care of players in my era and also my heroes in the era before and the eras before.

“$900 for a PET scan. We’re not covered by Medicare or any health fund, but any player who’s living quietly where I was…come out and get tested, and the league will foot the bill.

Carroll has never backed down from a fight and is ready for what lies ahead.

“You have good days and you have bad days,” he said.

“Would I change it? would i play tomorrow Damn oath I would.”

If you need help during a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Visit beyondblue for more information on depression 1300224636 or talk to your family doctor, a local healthcare professional or someone you trust.

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James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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