Toowoomba footy star sues league over brain injury
TOOWOOMBA man Liam Cullen is suing Queensland Rugby League and Roma Cities Rugby League Club for a brutal tackle that left him with a life-changing brain injury.
He suffered a brain bleed after a rough tackle and now struggles with the after effects.
He has called for an end to aggressive players acting out on their opponents.
Mr Cullen, who now coaches Brothers in the Toowoomba Rugby League competition, previously captained the St George A grade rugby league team.
In July 2014, Mr Cullen alleges an opposing player dangerously swung an arm at his head during the course of play while he was locked in a tackle by another player and unable to protect himself.
Mr Cullen was knocked unconscious.
The opposing player then came down in force on him, causing further injury.
Frequent headaches, concentration and memory issues continue to plague him.
Before the injury he worked as a project manager with a bright future, but he has had to concede he'll never return to that sort of life.
"I woke to see my wife Rochelle's face looking at me as I was being loaded onto a plane heading to the PA Hospital," he said.
"I'll never forget when she visited me with the kids. I was suffering from a condition called post traumatic amnesia and when I saw our baby girl, Alba, I asked Rochelle who she was. I was in such a bad state I didn't recognise my own daughter."
He has only been able to work sporadically since then.
"I was in a really good place with a great job that challenged and engaged me. I've lost that now," he said.
"I'd be crazy to ever play football again with my injury and I know there isn't a doctor anywhere who would be keen to sign me.
"It's been a massive challenge with my kids. It's challenging for everyone but as a father I've noticed the changes within myself.
"I've been quite irritable towards my children - that's not me, and it's not nice for them to have to see that."
Mr Cullen is represented by Shine Lawyers in a public liability claim against Queensland Rugby League and the Roma Cities Rugby League Club.
Shine Lawyers general manager Kimberly Allen said Australia had a great sporting culture, but in order to maintain that, the codes had to ensure proper safeguards so people could "go home safely to their kids and families".
"There is always an inherent element of risk with sports and football is no different but no one who participates in sport consents to being impacted to this degree with a life-threatening injury.
"Consent only goes as far as those limits allowed in the safe play rules.
"At times people go outside of the rules but the referees are there to identify such instances and stamp out that behaviour."
A charity match will be played between Brothers and Valley Rooster tomorrow with money raised to go to The Great White Campaign and its quest to bring a neurosurgical unit to Toowoomba.