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One punch can kill


One punch can kill

JAMES Bond is a dangerous man. The fictional British spy's ability to sustain the mother of all hidings yet still ask coolly for a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, is an example of gross misperception.

It takes one punch to ruin a life, Jeremy Gilchrist, manager of brain injury services with the Southern NSW Local Health District, says.

He works each day with sufferers of irreversible brain damage - people confined to wheelchairs or beds with a full-time carer for the rest of their days.

It's not surprising, therefore, that his ears pricked up about 9pm on the night of June 5.

NSW Origin captain Paul Gallen was lauded by his coach Laurie Daley for punching an opponent on the chin - twice - during the series opener at the Olympic Stadium.

Daley labelled the fight "a great Origin moment".

The punching bag, Queensland backrower Nate Myles, shrugged off the incident. A crowd of more than 80,000 rose to its feet and voiced approval.

League supporters north of the Tweed began instantly plotting revenge acts on the Blues skipper.

The reality is Gallen's punches had the potential to inflict brain damage. The quick left-right combination could have floored the Queenslander … permanently.

More disturbing than the fight itself was the reaction.

"The problem is young people see movies where someone gets punched 30 times, and keeps getting back up," Mr Gilchrist said.

"We see guys get punched once, and that's it. They're in a wheelchair and need carers for the rest of their lives."

The Australian Rugby League commission has since laid down the law: throw a punch at Lang Park on Wednesday and you'll be sent to the sinbin.

It's a commonsense decision. Any organisation that paints violence in a positive light is irresponsible, Mr Gilchrist says.

"It's never okay to punch someone in the head. Whether it be on the football field or street, it's a big risk.

"When you see a punch up in football game and it's promoted as a positive thing, that only reinforces the idea you can take a heap of punches and walk away fine.

"The reality is those injuries can take years to recover… And worst case scenario is death."

Gerry Doran is Leisure Link coordinator with Goulburn Mulwaree Council. He too works with individuals and families affected by brain damage.

"Is it going to take someone to die before they do anything?" he said.

"If someone throws a punch like that on the street, it's assault. If they die, it's manslaughter. Yet it happens on the field and people like it."

References and further information

This article was originally produced by the Goulburn Post. 


To view the rest of this article, visit the Goulburn Post website.


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