Ex-Richmond star sues over head knocks that 'left him in severe pain and struggling to get food'

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Ex-Richmond star sues Tigers over head knocks that allegedly ‘left him in severe pain and struggling just to get some food’ – as he claims he gets ‘goosebumps’ whenever he’s near club HQ

  • Ty Zantuck suing Richmond over how they managed his head injuries 
  • Zantuck has been diagnosed with suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Fatal brain disease has been linked to repeated blows to footballers’ heads
  • Zantuck’s lawyers maintain claim raises wider questions about Tigers 

A damages claim by Richmond player Ty Zantuck raises questions about how the Tigers managed head injuries for all of its players, his lawyers believe.

Zantuck was diagnosed with suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a fatal brain disease, in late 2021.

He wants damages from Richmond for the management of on-field concussions suffered up to 2004 after playing four seasons with the AFL club.

Ty Zantuck (pictured) claims Richmond's mismanagement of his concussions ruined his career. In late 2021 the former Tiger and Bomber was diagnosed with suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a fatal brain disease

Ty Zantuck (pictured) claims Richmond’s mismanagement of his concussions ruined his career. In late 2021 the former Tiger and Bomber was diagnosed with suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a fatal brain disease 

His lawyer, Lachlan Armstrong QC, said the case raised serious questions about whether Richmond appropriately managed head injuries for all players, given the state of medical knowledge at the time.

‘This is the sort of issue that the Supreme Court, the superior court in this state, the home of AFL, should be looking at,’ he said.

He said video footage showing head knocks during matches would be tremendously important and show how other Tigers players were treated.

Physiotherapists, runners, coaches and players could also be called on at trial.

Mr Armstrong described high-level AFL as a bruising sport in which young men were helped through the season by a team of medical staffers.

‘I won’t say they are the walking wounded, but you do wonder sometimes how they are held together,’ he said.

Zantuck tackles Essendon's Matthew Lloyd in 2003. He claims the head and back injuries he sustained on the field left him so heavily medicated he couldn't drive

Zantuck tackles Essendon’s Matthew Lloyd in 2003. He claims the head and back injuries he sustained on the field left him so heavily medicated he couldn’t drive

He compared concussion injuries to mesothelioma, an illness that takes years to develop, and the subject of landmark court actions for asbestos exposure.

Zantuck is also suing over Richmond’s management of a chronic back injury that left him in constant severe pain.

On Friday, he gave evidence that he was bringing the lawsuit now because he previously couldn’t afford to.

He said he had been left with ‘horrible feelings’ about the club and gets goosebumps when he goes near its facilities.

After 68 games with Richmond and nine games with Essendon in 2005, Zantuck moved between several lower-grade clubs and struggled to make a living, Victoria’s Supreme Court was told.

He would receive a $5000 sign-on payment but after a few games clubs would realise he was useless, he said.

‘I was trying to get anything I could to just get some food,’ he said.

At the same time he was so heavily medicated he couldn’t drive.

Zantuck (pictured with the Bombers in 2005) alleges he had to have 15 to 20 epidural injections in the 2003 and 2004 seasons to be able to take the field

Zantuck (pictured with the Bombers in 2005) alleges he had to have 15 to 20 epidural injections in the 2003 and 2004 seasons to be able to take the field

The former Tigers hard man, who gave evidence by video after contracting COVID-19, had coughing fits during his evidence.

Zantuck has applied for more time to build the case against Richmond, former club doctor Chris Bradshaw and current doctor Greg Hickey.

Neill Murdoch QC, for Dr Bradshaw, argued Zantuck should be treated as an unreliable witness, with a ‘fanciful’ conspiracy theory that medical records needed for the case had been destroyed or withheld.

Lawyers for the Richmond Football Club said a trial would face real problems due to the 17 or 18-year delay.

Zantuck claims he was injected with local anaesthetic on training and game days to get through matches in early 2002, as well as 15 to 20 epidural injections in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

The court has adjourned until a later date.

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