“We are very grateful for that.
“This is a first sit down and talk. We both have similar stated aims, we want to minimise concussion and minimise the effects of repeated head injuries on current and former players and ongoing long-term health issues.
“We have a lot in common but come from different perspectives. The AFL have a lot of expertise that we don’t have – not knowing the game like they do, for example.
“Ideally we will get to the answers sooner if we can work together … So far it’s been very positive. We are determine to maintain the collegiality … We don’t have to be like America and end up everyone fighting with each other.”
In the United States it took years for the NFL to stop trying to disprove the link between CTE and playing the sport, despite independent research suggesting otherwise.
The NFL now has a multi-million compensation scheme for former players.
Last week another of the researchers from the Farmer discovery suggested the AFL should make players have more than a week off before letting them return to play, and that there should be testing of players brains at the start of their career to track changes as they play.
A lawyer also urged the AFL to keep concussion matters out of the courts and to set up a redress scheme.
Buckland said 30 people – from all walks of life – had contacted the Australian Sports Brain Bank since the Farmer news to donate their brains for research after death.
“From my point of view the immediate benefit of Polly’s story is that people are talking about it and the more we do the faster we get answers.”
The AFL has changed rules in recent years with the aim of reducing knocks to the head. It has also invested money in high-tech mouthguards which track impacts to player’s skulls.
The data will be used to measure if rule changes result in less trauma to the players by recording acceleration and rotation of the skull.
The AFL will this year increase spending on concussion research to $500,000. That includes, but is not limited to, the mouthguards, past player assessments, analysis of current player head injuries and a multi-year study by Monash University on the usefulness of helmets.
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.