Former rugby league hardman Mario Fenech reveals he has brain damage

Mario Fenech admitted publicly two years ago that he had suffered brain damage from too many head knocks.

Mario Fenech during his playing career in Australia
Mario Fenech during his playing career in Australia

Mario Fenech had a very successful rugby carreer. He played for South Sydney, North Sydney and South Queensland. As well since retiring Mario has also represented Malta in a rugby league sevens tournament.

Mario Fenech, was born in Malta but his family left for Australia when he was 10 months old in the mid 1960's.

Mario Fenech took many heavy hits during his rugby league career, but despite the courage he displayed on the field he’s now warning today’s players to show common sense instead of bravery. 

Fenech, 54, played at a time when to go off the field after being knocked out in a tackle was a sign of weakness, but he told The Sydney Morning Herald of how his own health suffered because of this when his playing days ended.

‘I have no worries saying that I've had some problems in years gone by. I suffered significant head knocks as a player,’ he said.

‘This settles my brain down like an anti-inflammatory. My memory is better. I feel blessed. Because you get worried, mate,’ he said.

Mario Fenech
Mario Fenech

Fenech is now asking for today’s players to avoid this scenario altogether and show a different kind of courage – to be brave enough to admit they aren’t able to continue in a game when they’ve taken a nasty hit to the head.




‘I remember getting knocked out that many times and I would never leave the field. You know why? Because I was a lunatic. And I was the captain, I wasn't going anywhere and I was not leaving the field. I would stay on with concussion,’ he explained.

But old habits die hard as reported in April when the Parramatta Eels were fined $20,000 ($10,000 suspended) for its handling of three concussion incidents, including one involving Nathan Peats. 

In recent years other players like Ian Roberts, who played for South Sydney, Manly, North Queensland, NSW and Australia during his career, also admitted to now having brain damage.

Roberts believed it was because he was knocked out up to a dozen times in his playing career and he has suffered from depression as a side effect of it since.

However, Fenech hoped that slowly but surely things were moving in the right direction and the NRL’s concussion policy was working.

‘If you've had a head knock you should leave the field. I wish this was around when I was playing. When I watch the player walk off now I think, “I wish that was around when I was playing”,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.


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