Medical professionals have applauded Dragons forward Josh Miller for his acceptance of ongoing concussion problems, declaring his early retirement an ‘‘important’’ step forward for the NRL.
Miller, who started his career in Canberra and played 113 NRL games for the Raiders, conceded on Friday that another season of rugby league risked being detrimental to his health.
His exit opens the door for Bronson Harrison to join the Dragons after the former Kiwi international was released by the Raiders.
As the NRL grapples with its new concussion laws and the vexing issue of player attitudes towards head knocks, Dragons medico Dr Tom Carrigan welcomed Miller’s decision.
‘‘Josh is the most genuine kind of person there is and he is somebody who does accept the right advice when it comes,’’ Dr Carrigan said.
‘‘I was very pleased to hear that he adopted a very mature attitude in listening and understanding the rationale behind what we’ve done.
‘‘It’s very important. The clubs are realising ‘sure it’s a competitive game but player welfare is really important’.
‘‘It’s a joint decision, it wasn’t simply us telling him not to play.’’
Following a number of serious concussions this year, Miller sat a three-hour test with a sports psychologist in September, assessing basic skills in memory, recall and coordination.
It confirmed what the former Raiders forward didn’t want to hear.
‘‘Every footy player wants to play but sometimes it’s not up to me,’’ Miller said.
‘‘The decision has been taken up by other people, otherwise I’d play until I was 80 - I’d still be running around in a retirement home trying to play footy.
‘‘That’s not the way it’s meant to be and that’s not the career I’ve had.
‘‘I’m very thankful for my career and I don’t take any of it for granted. It’s been the time of my life and something I’ll really cherish.’’
Miller was originally signed with the Dragons until the end of next season.
The club is expected to counteract his departure with the signing of Harrison in the coming weeks.
The 12-Test veteran had two years left on his contract with the Raiders, but only played 10 games last year due to injury and had slipped down the pecking order behind Josh Papalii and Joel Thompson, while new additions Joel Edwards (Knights) and Jake Foster (Bulldogs) add further depth in the second row.
‘‘Bronson’s been granted a release, so with his manager he’s working out where he’s going to be next season,’’ Raiders coach David Furner said.
‘‘He’s very professional, and unfortunately for Bronson this year he sustained a lot of injuries.
‘‘With this game, normally if you’re in that position it gives opportunities to other players and the efforts of Josh Papalii and Joelly Thompson made it a little bit hard.’’
The 27-year-old would be an ideal fit for the Dragons forwards stocks, now without Beau Scott (Newcastle), Dean Young (retirement), Jeremy Latimore (Panthers) and Miller for next year.
‘‘We’ve been in communication with his management team but that’s an ongoing progress at the moment and we’ll have to wait and see,’’ Dragons coach Steve Price said.